Every time I mention that I have planted beets I always get asked why. After they call me weird, they make the face that looks like they ate a lemon and is the international sign for “Yuck!”
This is my plea for you to at least try beets. I am not talking about the squidgy little nuggets of grossness that are boiled beets out of a can you find on salad bars. Seriously no one should eat those. They have ruined the beet’s good name. What follows here is a tutorial on how to roast beets and a way to serve them. When roasted, the sugars in the beet caramelize and they get sweet and delicious.
Here is my beet harvest. It’s really the first beet harvest I could eat. I tried to grow them last year but I planted them too late or something and I got a lot of greens but no beet roots. This year I pulled them up and was all excited and jumping around like a 5 year old. I came running into the house with this big basket to show TB.
Aren’t they beautiful? I left the dirt on them for this picture so you knew I wasn’t lying that I grew them.
1. So step one is to get a knife, cutting board and a beet.
2. Next we trim. Cut the greens off about an inch or so above the beet root. You can also trim the long dangley root part a bit.
3. One you have trimmed all your beets, wash them thoroughly. They may not look that dirty but they have been in the ground for 2 months and grit tastes bad. (These are about to get washed.) I use a scrubby pad but a potato brush is ideal.
4. Since I didn’t have much confidence in my beet growing abilities, I grabbed a bunch from the store to make sure there were enough. The nice veggie man got all excited when I asked about the beet variety I hadn’t seen before. He said they were his favorite. I noticed they were a lighter pink on the outside but didn’t realize until I cut into them that they were striped inside.
5. After washing, put the beets into a baking dish big enough that everyone has a little elbow room. Since the striped beets were a lot bigger than my beets I cut them into quarters so they would cook in about the same time. Otherwise I usually leave them all whole. Drizzle some olive oil over them and a pinch of salt. I like to toss them a bit so they are nice and coated. If you are going to put these in a salad (which we are) then you can put a little extra oil and use it later as beet infused dressing.
6. Cook these in a 375 degree oven. The length of time with depend on how big your beets are. Small ones could be done in 20 minutes while bigger ones may need 45 minutes. You will know they are done when you can pierce it with a knife and it slides right in. Set aside and let cool enough for you to handle them.
7. Once cooled a bit, put one on your cutting board and trim off the root end and the stem end. As a warning, beets will stain everything they touch for the most part. I try to avoid touching them as much as possible.
8. Now we peel. If you try to do this when they are raw it’s like trying to peel a rock. Now the skin will literally fall off. My very professional technique involves stabbing the beet with a fork to keep it steady (they can be slippery) and rubbing the skin off with a paper towel. Yes, I said a paper towel. I keep one roll for messy emergencies and this counts.
9. Here are all the beets with their skins off. They look like little jewels. And you can really tell the difference between the purple and the striped ones.
10. Cut them up into smaller pieces. I prefer cubes but you could make slices too. If there is oil still in the baking pan, pour it over the beets in a bowl with a splash of red wine vinegar. TB like a little vinegar but I like to pour a lot on. Do what you want.
My favorite way to eat beets is toss them on top of greens (arugula is my favorite) with goat cheese. Beets and goat cheese go so well together. They have a lovely earthy taste that will not remind you of a cheap salad bar.
So please give them a try. They are terribly good for you and delicious. (They are also good for your liver which is a plus for us celebrators.) If you do give it a try, let me know how it worked out in the comments.