Beets. The bane of many a child, but for the more refined palate, a delicious root veggie. It’s hard to say, but I think beets may be the one vegetable that made the biggest 180 in my dining repertoire (probably a tie with Brussels sprouts). When I was a tyke, just the thought of those red devils would have me digging in my heels at the dinner table. Now, I can’t get enough. Baked, boiled, pickled, chopped in a salad, beets are now a solid addition to my vegetable rotation. Here, I want to share my love for the tasty roots and set you up with some recipes and some fun facts to keep kitchen detail enjoyable.
Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes
This is a hearty recipe for anyone who likes their roots. For an additional pop of flavor, add some baby carrots into the mix.
- 6 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
- Olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 tsp. dried minced garlic (or 4 fresh cloves, minced)
In a medium bowl, toss beets and 1 tbsp. of olive oil until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
In the same bowl, add sweet potatoes, onion, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and seasoning. Toss until equally coated.
After beets have cooked for 15 minutes, add the sweet potato/onion mix. Smooth into an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring about halfway through.
Fun Fact: Healthy Snack
Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals. Lacking magnesium, folic acid or beta-cyanine in your diet? Snack on some beets. For those needing a boost of vitamin B, beets don’t start with ‘b’ for nothing. Pair all those B’s with rich levels of folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium, and these roots are a downright superfood, and perfect for pregnant women.
For those suffering from autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, or chronic inflammation (as in some heart diseases like atherosclerosis) beets are excellent additions to that fresh fruit and veggie juice. Containing phytonutrients betanin, isobetanin, vulgaxanthin and betalain, these anti-inflammatory compounds inhibit the activity levels of certain enzymes that trigger inflammation.
Beets are also regarded as nature’s energy drink—low in calories and high in sugar, which is released into the system gradually instead of in the sugar-dump of some foods, like chocolate. This also makes for a great natural way to sweeten that smoothie or kale juice.
- How to choose your beets: Select firm beets with smooth skins and non-wilted leaves if still attached. The smaller the beet, the more tender the flesh.
- How to Store: Remove the leaves, leaving about an inch of the stems. Store in a bag in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
For a tasty Beet and Citrus Salad and easy recipe for Pickled Beets, see page two.
For many, pickled beets are a store purchase, a quick grab of a jar at the supermarket—easy-peasy. Only issue with this is the vinegar content; I have yet to find a jar with the right balance. So for an easy-to-do job at home with mild vinaigrette that enhances the flavor of the beets, try this recipe.
- 4 to 5 beets
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. pure cane sugar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. horseradish*
- Salt and pepper to taste
Remove greens from beets. To cook, there are a few options: bake, boil or steam. When baking, wrap the beets whole in foil, cooking them at 400 degrees for an hour. When a fork can easily slide out, they’re done. To boil or steam, cut beets into even chunks—I like one-inch cubes, but make them how you like, as long as they are uniform to create an evenly cooked bunch.
Once cooked, drain (or remove from foil) and rinse in cold water. Once cool, peel the skin off the beets—this should be easily done with your fingers.
Combine vinegar, sugar, olive oil and horseradish and whisk with a fork to create the vinaigrette. Taste and make any adjustments necessary; add salt and pepper to taste.
Add beets and vinaigrette to a bowl, carefully fold until completely coated and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
* For a more traditional recipe, substitute dry mustard for the horseradish.
Beet and Citrus Salad
For a fresh and sweet citrus salad, beets make a great addition to mix.
- 1 bunch beets, unpeeled with trimmed tops
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Ruby Red grapefruit, segments cut from between membranes
- 2 Hass avocados
- 1 radish, sliced thin
- 2 oz. arugula
- 2 oz. baby spinach
- 2 oz. buttercrunch lettuce, chopped
- 3/4 cup feta
- Citrus vinaigrette (recipe below)
Toss unpeeled beets in olive oil; add salt and pepper to taste. Wrap each beet in foil, place directly on oven wrack, and roast at 400 degrees until tender—about an hour. Once cooked, remove foil and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Rub skins off and cut into wedges.
In a large bowl, add arugula, baby spinach and chopped buttercrunch lettuce; toss with 2 tbsp. of vinaigrette. Divide lettuce mixture among plates.
Add beets, grapefruit, radish and avocado to the bowl; add 2 tbsp. of vinaigrette and carefully toss to coat. Portion the beet mix and place atop the lettuce and sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. grapefruit juice
- 1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine first six ingredients in a jar; season with salt and pepper to taste. Shake to blend.