Beets get the worst rap. Most people grow up eating them out of a can, sliding the ring-imprinted red slop onto their plates with a predictable grimace. The American palate is preternaturally opposed to the beet, and it's a damn travesty. Boiled fresh and tossed on the grill with some balsamic glaze and herbs, this recipe might just change your whole outlook on the red roots. The best part is it's easy, quick, and looks really classy on the plate without a lot of work or fuss.

This is one of those recipes that I've been eating at lots of meals in my life, so the post-beet panic has passed me by now. Before you prepare and eat these, let me just echo that Portlandia sketch when you have a panic attack in the bathroom the next day: it's the beets. It's just the beets.

Balsamic grilled beets with feta

• 3 pounds of red or golden beets, preferably less than 3 inches in diameter

• 1 cup balsamic vinegar

• 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup or dark agave nectar (less if you're using agave)

• 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

• 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

Put the beets in a stock pot and cover with water. Boil them for 30 to 45 minutes until they're fork-tender, then cool them in some ice water and slip off the skins. Depending on the size of your beets, cut them into quarters (insider tip: the smaller the beet, the less fibrous and more sweet it will be, which makes for a shorter cooking time). Set aside beet quarters.

In a small saucepan, simmer the balsamic vinegar and sweetener until reduced by half, then pour over the beets with the olive oil and toss until all the quarters are coated. Sprinkle on about half of the rosemary and salt and pepper the beets.

Put the quarters on a hot grill until the beets get a few grill marks and the balsamic has caramelized on the outside. Plate them up, sprinkle on some cracked black pepper and then top with the crumbled feta, remaining rosemary and serve.

This is another recipe from my childhood that defies explanation. I grew up in a landlocked state, but our Thanksgiving spread has featured oysters as long as I can remember. And every year, my mom serves this to someone who holds up an open palm and insists they're not a seafood person. Few people make it through our Thanksgiving without being converted.

In her kitchen, my mom uses larger torn bread chunks as well as crumbs, which gives the dressing more texture and makes it less mealy.

As far as sourcing your oysters, you have to go to a local butcher shop or fish market. Seriously. Don't go to a grocery store for these bad boys. You don't want to leave your oyster quality up to one overworked meat and seafood counter manager. The quality simply won't be there.

Instead, I encourage you to hit up Joe's, Kincaid's, Caplingers, Van's, or any of the other high-quality fish and meat shops. The freshness and the quality is unbeatable versus the grocery store. Trust me.

Oyster Dressing

• 3/4 cup butter

• 2 large onions, chopped

• 3 cloves garlic, chopped or

more to taste

• 2 1/2 tablespoons and teaspoons dried parsley

• 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

• 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

• 1 3/4 teaspoons salt

• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)

• 6 2/3 cups fresh shucked oysters, drained and liquid reserved

• 1 2/3 cups Italian seasoned

dry bread crumbs

• 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9-inch square baking dish.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper until combined, and gently mix in the oysters. Cook, stirring often, until the edges of the oysters begin to curl, about 8 minutes. Stir in the bread crumbs and reserved oyster liquid until the stuffing is thoroughly combined. Lightly spoon the stuffing into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the stuffing with Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown, 15 to

20 minutes.

Recipes adapted from my mom and

— Sarah Murrell


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