Give Beets a Chance

Give Beets a Chance

Posted by Julie on Jul 19th 2018

It seems like people fall into one of two camps where it comes to beets. Either you think beets can’t be beat, or you’d rather be beaten than eat them. We consider ourselves to be open-minded eaters, but we struggle with beets. Our kids are right; they taste like dirt.

In this post, we’ll explore that earthy flavor, along with a few ideas for preparing beets and using them as an ingredient. Even if we can’t convince ourselves to give beets a chance, maybe we can convince you.

Why Bother With Beets?

Beets are so nutritious, we feel guilty not including them in our diet. Like other root vegetables, they are not only full of vitamins and minerals, they’re also on the sweet side. However, growing underground isn’t what gives this vegetable its signature flavor. If it was, we’d complain about a similar taste with carrots, onions, and potatoes.

Instead, it’s geosmin, a compound produced by microbes in the soil, that makes beets taste the way they do. In fact, a University of Wisconsin professor and beet breeder is researching ways to increase geosmin in beets (for those who love that earthy flavor) and decrease it too (for the rest of us).

Until scientists can create beets that appeal to everyone, keep reading to learn the best ways we found to make beets delicious.

Steamed, Roasted, or Raw Beets

You can cook beets in a variety of ways, or you can serve them raw in slaw or salad. We recommend cooking them, especially if you aren’t a beet lover.

Roasting beets takes a while, but it could be the best place to start. Tori Avey has a helpful step-by-step tutorial for roasting beets. She offers great tips you might not consider if you aren’t familiar with beets. For example, don’t cut off the beet tails, and leave a couple inches of the beet stems in place while roasting. Also, they should be roasted in a covered dish or wrapped in foil. Turn them regularly so they cook evenly.

Give Beets a Chance: Roast beets in a covered dish or wrapped in foil. Turn them regularly so they cook evenly.

You’ll know they're done when you can easily insert a wooden skewer in the center of the biggest beet. Finally, the tidiest way to peel beets after roasting is under running water. Run the skins down the garbage disposal, or catch them with a colander like the SinkStation from New Soda.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to roast beets, you can also steam them. The flavor isn’t as concentrated, and it takes as little as 15 minutes. Wash and trim your beets as you were roasting them, then cut them into quarters and steam. You’ll remove the skins after steaming.

Still not convinced you want to bother with beets? Check out these recipes we found for ways to cook and eat beets. We hope you’ll give at least one of them a shot.

Baked Beet Chips

If you’ve ever tried trendy root vegetable chips, you’ve probably already eaten a beet chip without knowing it. This recipe from Minimalist Baker is quick and easy, and it looks delicious. It also doesn’t turn beets into an unrecognizable form; you know you’re eating beets, even though they taste good.

Give Beets a Chance: If you’ve ever tried trendy root vegetable chips, you’ve probably already eaten a beet chip without knowing it.

Use a mandoline to slice your beets as thin as possible. Don’t worry about the skin, but remove any blemishes. Flavor them with salt, pepper, and rosemary — or get creative with herbs and spices of your choice.

Beet Salad With Pecans and Goat Cheese

This recipe from Fine Cooking uses steamed beets. Halve the recipe if you’re making it for the first time. This will also decrease the cooking time. After steaming and peeling, toss them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then top them with goat cheese and toasted pecans. Many beet recipes call for this flavor combination, so we think it’s worth a try.

The Best Beets From Food52

If you’re still searching for the beets of your dreams, Food52 may have your match. Their recipe contests are a great resource, especially where it comes to ingredients that don’t hold mass appeal. Scroll through four pages of readers’ best beet recipes, and see what looks good. You might be surprised by what you find.