Beets are an astounding vegetable. Both the roots and the greens are edible. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. The red juice can be used as a dye, as you will no doubt discover when it runs all over your cutting board (though don’t worry, the juice washes out easily unless it gets “fixed“). Commercially, they are used as a source of sugar, accounting for approximately 20% of the world’s sugar production. Also, if you eat a lot of beets, they will temporarily turn your pee and poo red – don’t worry, you’re not dying of internal hemmoraging! As with carrots and onions, cooking (especially roasting or pan frying) brings out the beets’ sweetness, so if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, that’s a good way to go.
Below are two beet recipes – a delicious sweet soup that turns an astounding pink color, and a Moroccan carrot and beet slaw that make a great side dish.
Beet Soup (gluten-free, vegetarian, optionally vegan)
by Sarah Steely
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 min- 1 hour, plus optional cooling
1 ¾ lbs beets (4-5 medium size), well scrubbed (optional: peeled)
Water or broth to cover beets
4 large sprigs fresh dill plus 1/4 cup chopped (or dried dill to taste)
1 cup sour cream
¼ to ½ cup heavy whipping cream (how decadent do you want to be?)
Salt and pepper to taste
Note: you can easily make this vegan by leaving the dairy out, or by substituting a mild-flavored nut milk and plant-based yogurt.
Chop the beets into large chunks. Add water or broth until liquid level is ~1 inch above beets. Bring to a boil, reduce to low-medium heat. Lightly boil ~30-45 minutes, or until beets are tender.
Let it cool until warm. This is important for blender safety (hot splash-back can burn!) and so the sour cream doesn’t curdle (which it will do if the puree is too hot). Puree with an immersion blender or blender, or mash thoroughly by hand.
Add cream, sour cream, and dill. Puree or mash more—really mix it up. Then taste it and add salt, pepper, and more dill until you’re happy with the taste.
You can eat it warm. Or, chill it in the fridge and eat it cold – whatever floats your boat.
Serving suggestion: Chop those beet greens and saute them with chopped garlic in an oil/fat of your choice. Garnish the soup with that.
Other tasty alterations to experiment with:
*Saute some garlic and onion in a fat of your choice before adding beets and water/broth.
*Add a few chopped carrots when you boil the beets for an additional hint of sweetness.
*You can also add in some cider vinegar and/or sugar to temper the earthy beet flavor.
*Top with a hard boiled egg (or soft boiled, or fried!) for extra decadence and protein.
Moroccan carrot and beet slaw (vegan, gluten-free)
by Dawn Beckman
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: none, other than optional cooling time
Serves 4 as a side dish
2 beets, washed or peeled
5 carrots, washed or peeled
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped – optional
1. Grate the carrots and beets separately. (You can also use a food processor if you have one.) Rinse the beets in a colander and allow to drain (so that the whole salad doesn’t turn red).
2. Combine carrots, beets, raisins, and almonds in a mixing bowl.
3. To make the dressing, mix the lemon juice, honey or agave, olive oil, and spices in a small bowl using a fork or a whisk.
4. Pour the dressing over the beet and carrot mixture. Add salt, pepper, and mint. Stir gently.
5. Serve cold or at room temperature.