A few years ago I read about a Russian woman who lived to the ripe old age of 117! I had to wonder what she ate. Could her diet have included plenty of beets? After all, beets are a favorite in Russian cuisine, and they are known to contain many important health benefits.
Beets date back as far as the second millennium BC where they were likely cultivated along the Mediterranean. They eventually spread to Babylonia, China and Europe. In 19th
century Germany, they became commercially important due to the discovery that sucrose (sugar) could be extracted from them.
Beets have a sweet, earthy flavor. They are delicious steamed, roasted, boiled, pickled, or grated raw into salads. They complement many dishes, including fruit. While available year round, beets reach their peak from June through October. When purchasing fresh beets, you will easily find the common purple variety, however, many stores do carry golden beets as well another pink and white variety called Chioggia. When available, make sure to buy the entire plant -— the root and greens. The leafy beet greens are full of good nutrition and are easy to cook. Add them to a soup or sauté them with onions and garlic in olive oil or butter.
These beet and beet green ideas and recipes are meant to inspire you, but remember that purple beets will turn your recipe reddish in color and can stain hands and clothes, so proceed with an apron and a bit of caution.
- Boil beets until just tender. Cool, then slip the skin off easily with your fingers. Slice, chop or grate and use as desired.
- Grate raw beets and add to green salad, fruit salad and slaw. Enjoy this recipe for Beet and Mint Slaw.
- Many great chefs feature beets in numerous gourmet salads similar to this Endive and Beet Salad with Walnut-Tarragon Vinaigrette.
- Add beets to soups and stews. For added color, stir in the beet greens towards the end of cooking.
- Go traditionally Russian with this recipe for Borscht with Cabbage and Potatoes.
- Steam or sauté beet greens. Top with cooked or raw chopped or grated beet root. Perfect as a side dish or to eat alone. If you love greens, you will love this recipe for Tangy Buttered Beets and Beet Greens with Dijon.
- Serve cooked beets with oranges, apples, grapefruit or tangerines. This Beet Salad with Oranges and Romaine is one of my favorites with crusty bread and light sparkling wine, such as Italian Prosecco.
- For sweet depth of flavor, you can’t beat roasted beets. Try them roasted in a casserole with other root veggies such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes and rutabaga. Here’s a great idea for Roasted Fall Vegetables.
- Use roasted beets in salads such as Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Goat’s Milk Panna Cotta and Roasted Baby Beet and Spinach Salad.
- People have pickled beets for many generations. Here is a lunch-time favorite recipe for Pickled Eggs and Beets that is simply delicious with crusty rye bread.
- Golden beets are sweet and delicious, and they won’t turn your food various shades of red! Here’s a perfect fall recipe with golden beets called Chicken in a Pot.
- Serve cooked beets with whole grains, or make a Wheat Berry Salad with Raisins, Beets, and Citrus Vinaigrette, or a Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables.
Got a favorite beet recipe that can’t be beat? I would love to know!