Cast Iron Roasted Beets with Celery, Rhubarb Mostarda & Crème Fraîche

Beets are one of the beckoning ingredients that are essential from winter into spring. They offer plenty of sweet, savory and earthy notes that help them pair well with almost anything. In this recipe, I roast beets in foil pouches placed in a preheated cast iron pan. This method allows the beets to caramelize in their own juices. The rhubarb mostarda, with its naturally acidity, is there to add a perk of interest to the dish. Finally, the homemade crème fraîche brings a creamy tartness that bridges the caramelized beets to the zesty rhubarb.

Day 1 to 3: Making the Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche is a more refined version of sour cream. The beautiful thing about crème fraîche is its versatility. I even use it in desserts to cut sweetness. It’s super easy to make and pretty hands off in terms of prep.

Prep Time: 5 minutes, plus 36 to 48 hours resting time for thickening

Special Equipment: 1 quart mason jar, cheesecloth or clean dish rag, rubber band


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk with live cultures

Step by Step

  1. Stir the heavy cream and buttermilk together in a large bowl
  2. Transfer the mixture to a sterilized mason jar
  3. Cover the mason jar with cheesecloth or a clean dish rag
  4. Tightly seal the cheesecloth around the jar with a rubber band
  5. Let the mixture stand at room temperature (65 to 75F degrees) for 36 to 48 hours, or until thickened to the consistency of sour cream
  6. Remove the cheesecloth, screw on the mason jar lid and store up to one week

Day 2: Preparing the Cast Iron Roast Beets

Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes to preheat the cast iron pan

Cook Time: 40 to 50 minutes

Preheat Oven: 350F degrees

Special Equipment: Cast iron pan, foil


  • 2 lbs. baby beets, greens removed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup to marinate the beets
  • 3 lemons, zested and juices reserved
  • Salt, as needed

Step by Step

Roast the Beets

  1. Place the empty cast iron pan in a preheated oven for 30 minutes
  2. Cut beets in half. If they are larger than a golf ball, cut into 1-inch wedges
  3. In a large bowl, toss the beets with olive oil and salt to taste
  4. Unroll two sheets of foil long enough to wrap the beets in individual pouches
  5. Divide the beets between the foil sheets and wrap them into packets, sealing them completely
  6. Carefully remove the hot cast iron pan from the oven
  7. Place the foil pouches in the cast iron pan
  8. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the beets are tender. Flip the pouches after 20 minutes to caramelize the beets evenly
  9. Once the beets are cooked, remove them from the oven
  10.  Carefully open the foil pouches, as there will be steam coming out them
  11.  Let the beets cool inside the open foil pouches

Marinate the Beets

  1.  Once cool, toss the beets in a large bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice and remaining extra virgin olive oil
  2.  Enjoy right away, or place in an airtight container to marinate up to three days, giving them a shake every day to keep them coated in marinade

Day 3: Rhubarb Mostarda

A mostarda is a sweet and sour jam that contains mustard seeds.

Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 to 20 minutes, until mixture thickens


  • 1-1/2 lbs. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger, minced (substitute fresh ginger if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Step by Step

Cook the Aromatic Vegetables

  1. Warm a medium sauce pot over medium heat
  2. Once the pan is heated, lightly coat the pan in olive oil
  3. Add the finely chopped red onion and candied ginger, then gently cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until onions are translucent
  4. Add the minced garlic and cook for one more minute

Toast the Spices

  • Add the coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds and pepper to the pot and cook for another minute to bring out the natural oils in the dry spices

In Goes the Liquid

  • Next, add the sugar, water and red wine vinegar and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about five minutes to dissolve the sugar and meld everything together

Cook Down the Rhubarb

  • Add the chopped rhubarb, bring to a boil once again and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture has thickened, but is still chunky
  • Remove the pot from the heat and let cool before placing the mostarda into an airtight container
  • Enjoy now, or store up to one week in the refrigerator

Day 4: Prepare the Celery and Assemble the Dish

Meal day is here. It’s almost time to eat!

Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes

Cook Time: None, just 10 minutes held in ice water


  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste

Step by Step

Crisping the Celery

  1. Thinly slice the celery stalks on a bias
  2. Place the celery and leaves in ice water to crisp for 10 minutes
  3. When you are ready to plate, remove celery from the ice water and drain onto paper towels

Assemble the Plate

  • Smear a large dollop of crème fraîche onto a serving plate
  • Scatter the marinated beets around the crème fraîche, leaving small spaces between them so the crème fraîche peaks through
  • Spoon a bit of the rhubarb mostarda on and around the beets
  • Finally, scatter the celery all around the dish to build it out
  • Sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top to finish the dish
  • Serve and enjoy.