As delicious as they are, beets can be challenging to cook with other ingredients. When roasted, their natural sugars can taste overwhelmingly sweet. Served undercooked or raw, their earthiness can overpower. The sturdy vegetable also often needs longer cooking than other produce, complicating timing. And that vibrant crimson juice tends to stain everything.

So when we set out to create a winter salad featuring both beets and carrots, we looked for a better approach. To balance their boldness, we enlisted pungent blue cheese, darkly sweet dates and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. But we also needed the right cooking method.

Here, we took a cue from a classic French method: cooking en papillote, in which ingredients bake in a sealed packet of kitchen parchment or foil.

The sealed packet traps moisture, thus steaming foods in their own juices and allowing flavors to mingle. Because the closed environment ensures gentler, more even heat, cooking en papillote often is used for fish fillets and other delicate foods. But we found this technique also works wonders on hardy root vegetables, ultimately offering better control over flavor and texture.

By cooking our vegetables separately in foil, we found we could bring out the best qualities of each. Into one packet we placed raw beet wedges and dates; into another, carrots and a whole head of garlic. With our oven set to 425°F, we gave the beets a 10-minute head start, adding the carrot packet later.

This produced perfectly tender vegetables, each transformed by their accompanying ingredients, resulting in garlic-perfumed carrots and beets whose earthiness had been tamed by the caramelized dates without either overtaking the other. Cooking the carrots apart from the beets also had the benefit of keeping their color brighter and preventing the beet juice from staining.

For the dressing, we mashed the softened garlic cloves into a paste, then whisked in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and fresh thyme. A generous scattering of creamy-­salty-sharp blue cheese crumbles completed the dish. And there it was: an irresistibly vibrant salad that proves that beets can be a star and a team player at the same time.