Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't Fear the Beet!

Some people find beets intimidating to cook. Or they just plain don't like them. If you do like beets, or are at least are willing to try them (if somehow you've never had a beet), then read on. Dwight Schrute would be so proud!

When picking out beets, the small ones will be most tender, and will cook the fastest - so get those if you can. The roots should be firm with a smooth skin and rich ruby colored. The green tops should look fresh and these can be cooked as well.

Beets will keep for at least 2 weeks and up to 4, especially when you've gotten them home the same day they've been harvested! First, trim the greens off the top, leaving about 2 " of stems attached. Place the greens in a separate bag in the crisper, where they can last up to a week, and store the beets -do not wash them - in the refrigerator crisper. Did you know that swiss chard and beets are different varieties of the same plant?! So beet greens will have a similar flavor to swiss chard when cooked.

When you're ready to cook them - rinse them off but don't scrub them with a vegetable brush like they're a potato or carrot! Their skins are very thin and will rub off, and then you'll have a bloody mess on your hands! So, be gentle. This is why most recipes call for cooking beets whole first, then rubbing off the peels after they're cooked. This is not meant to drive you mad, but just to protect you from the bloody mess, which would also result in loss of valuable nutrients and we don't want that!!

Tonight for dinner we had hamburgers, but I chef'ed them up with this delicious farmstead cheddar cheese I had just brought back from Shelburne Farms in Vermont while I was on vacation this past week with my sister. I built my CSA Gourmet burger with a hearty slice of a farm-fresh sweet white onion, just-harvested sliced tomatoes ( heavenly) and bright tender lettuce from the farm. I didn't even really need the meat!

Back to the beets....

Roasted Beet Salad
I made a roasted beet salad and no it didn't take 2 hours to make!

You'll need: about 8 baby beets, 1 1/2 oranges (blood oranges are best, but navel is what I had and they turn bloody anyway when you add them to the beets so you can just tell your guests they're blood oranges!); fresh parsley; fresh lettuce (mix with arugula if you got it)

1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
2) G e n t l y wash the beets, trim the tops and bottoms, being careful not to cut into the "bloody beet".
3) Toss them in a bit of canola or vegetable oil to coat -do NOT season - salt causes bleeding
4) Check them after 30-45 minutes by piercing them with a fork or a slender knife - if they're tender, take them out, if they're not, don't - check again in 10 minutes.

**Alternative cooking method:
After you wash the beets, put them in a baking dish with with enough water to just cover the bottom, cover with foil and bake them in a 375 degree oven til tender.

5) Let them cool til you can handle them. * put on plastic gloves if you have them
6) Cut them into wedges (for small beets, 1/4 them)
7) Peel down an orange using a knife to cut away the pith along with the peel. (Cut the bottom and top off the orange til you see some flesh. Stand the orange up on it's cut end, and slice down the peel from top to bottom, taking the pith with the peel and exposing the flesh of the orange with each slice. when you're done you'll have a baldy orange.
8) Cut the orange into crosswise slices, picking out any seeds as you go, about 1/4" slices. Slice all these slices in halves.
9) Squeeze the juice of 1/2 another orange.
10) Rinse and chop whatever fresh lettuce greens you have (bonus if you have arugula!)
11) Chop about 1 tbsp fresh parsley
12) Place the lettuce greens in the bottom of a glass or ceramic serving dish, add the beets, top with the oranges, pour the orange juice over, drizzle a bit of olive over, add a grind or 2 of salt, add the parsley and you have yourself one purty, tasty salad!

For those of you that look at this recipe and think it's too long (you know who you are), keep in mind most recipes lack ALL the necessary detailed steps to execute the dish as intended, my recipes are lengthy b/c they're detailed.

I will, in the future, put my recipes in more of a traditional standard format with list of ingredients, proper amounts, yield, etc- but I'm just excited to get something out there so I realize the recipes are in a pretty rough form but, have faith and be patient. I'll get there.

Don't forget to post a comment with your foodback or email me at chef@csagourmet.net.


  1. HI Elizabeth,
    I too have learned to embrace the beet. I especially loved them cooked and sliced and used in place of the potato in the classic salad nicoise recipe. Also, beet greens sauteed in olive oil and tossed with lardons are simply beyond.

  2. Now are you going to define lardons for our readers, like our other sister, or shall I? Love the suggestion. Also - I have gone against CW and cut my beets before cooking so they cook faster. As long as you line your sheet pan with foil, the bloody mess will stay contained! Thanks for reading and posting!!