I am a big fan of root vegetables, and beets are certainly near the top of the list. You may have noticed at the market that beets come in a variety of colours -like rich fuchsia, golden and my favourite, candy cane striped. Beets make excellent side dishes (try roasted, braised or pickled), make delicious soups (like classic borscht and the recipe below), and are a colourful addition to salads. Between the great sweet taste and brilliant colours, they brighten up any dish. Be warned - beet juice stains! You may prefer to wear gloves when handling beets. Some people also prefer to peel their beets. I like to give them a good scrub and keep the skin on. If you haven’t already, give beets a try! Here are a few ideas.
Roasting Beets - Beets are typically roasted in one of two ways.
Place washed beets on tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and any other flavours of choice (e.g. thyme, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup). Wrap them up in the tin foil and place in a 400degF oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until soft.
The second method, and my preferred method, is to dice washed beets and season with oil, salt, pepper and additional flavours (I really like maple syrup and rosemary). Place on a baking sheet and roast at 425degF for about 30 min or until soft and caramelized on the outsides.
Roasted beets are delicious on their own as a side dish or make an excellent addition to salads. Try topping spinach or arugula with roasted beets, goat cheese (or feta or blue cheese), toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or pine nuts) and a balsamic dressing. Grated raw beets also make a beautiful addition to a salad.
Beets make delicious soups - beyond the classic borscht. Give this recipe a try:
Beet with Orange Soup
1 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
6 medium beets, diced (approx 1 cm)
2 carrots, diced (approx 1 cm)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
5 cups of vegetable broth
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
Salt and pepper
Optional: sour cream and chives
Over med-high heat, warm oil and add diced onions. Cook about 5 minutes, until soft.
Add diced beets and carrots. Tip: the smaller the beets and carrots are diced, the shorter the cooking time.
Add garlic and ginger and combine with vegetables. Let cook for about 5 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook until beets and carrots are soft.
Stir in zest and orange juice.
Remove from heat and blend (I like to use an immersion blender).
Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with sour cream and chives.
This soup or any beet dish is best enjoyed while listening to Michael Jackson’s Beat It, at full volume.