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We made a recipe tonight for halibut and beets. It called for cooking the beets in the microwave with some water until tender, peeling and slicing them, then putting them in the pan with the fish to bake at 450F until done. They take more time to cook than the fish, but why not peel and slice, put them in the oven, then add the fish at such a time as they will be done together?

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    it's generally an issue of cooking time and moisture content. If you'd like a more caramelized flavor and a bit drier beet, roast them first. If you'd like a moister beet, don't have a lot of time, or don't want to have to watch your beets to check for burning, microwaving with some water gets the job done faster and is more fool proof (as overcooking in the microwave won't lead to a burnt beat) – WetlabStudent Jun 29 '15 at 4:22
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Skipping the microwave step works, I suppose the author of the recipe used the microwave to save time. If you decide to roast the beets directly, keep the following differences in mind:

  • Time
    Roasting beets in the oven takes significantly longer than parboiling in the microwave. I can't say how long slices take (depends on thickness), but whole beets need 60 to 90 minutes, depending on size. Same reason why some cooks parboil their baked potatoes, then finish them in the oven.
  • Taste
    Roasting beets in the oven will caramelize the sugars in them, making them noticably sweeter than just cooked beets. The long roast will also bring out other flavour components.
  • Texture
    Roasting slices in the oven will likely dry them out somewhat. (I personally would go for wedges, but that's my choice) You either have to live with that or take counter-meassures like covering the dish, adding liquid or oiling the slices.

In short, yes you can skip the microwave step.

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    The recipe called for slicing the beets to 1/4 inch. It seems those will roast in 20-30 min, while we were supposed to microwave them 8 minutes, then roast another 8. The time savings is small. The point about caramelizing ad drying is a good one. Drying is even more of a concern with the slicing. Thanks. – Ross Millikan Jun 29 '15 at 4:40

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