Beets are another one of those foods that I think people only hate because they haven’t really had them prepared properly. I remember those pickled, salad bar type beets of my youth. They tasted like dirt to me and made a big mess. We ate them a lot in my house, and I’m not sure why. I remember scarfing them down first, so I could get it over with. Whenever I saw beets in the store or on a menu, all I could think of is that super earthy, nasty flavor.
They actually shouldn’t taste like dirt at all. They have a mild, sweet flavor, and the consistency of a cooked carrot. However, cooking them is very messy and beets will stain everything they come in contact with. I generally operate on beets on only glass cutting boards and right over the sink.
Beet greens are delicious, and I hate most greens. They’re something that I was never served as a kid, but I think I saw Paula Deen make a batch on television once. I thought to myself, you can eat beet greens? I didn’t think I’d like them, but I tried them anyway. They have a milder flavor than most greens and a little bit of sweetness. They are the only greens that I actually like quite a bit. Now, when I look for beets I try to find ones that have lots of leafy greens.
Besides healthy greens, beet should be firm, colorful and free of blemishes. I prefer smaller beets. I think they have a sweeter, more punchy flavor. The larger ones, like many vegetables, don’t have as strong a flavor.
Beets are actually pretty good for you. We could all stand to eat more of them. Ancient Romans used them as medicine, mostly for digestive problems and as an aphrodisiac. Today, we know they’re packed with antioxidants, particularly betanin, which gives them their red color. Interestingly, it’s a different red pigment than you find in most red fruits and vegetables. Most have anthocyanins. Overcooking can destroy the betanin. I’m pretty sure it was destroyed in those sludgy beets from my youth. A correctly cooked beet still has some texture to it. Beets are also high in folates, vitamin C and potassium.
Beet greens are high in oxalate, which can lead to kidney stones. If you’re prone to kidney stones, the health benefits of beets might not be as seductive.
Beets are relatively low in calories with just 27 calories per half cup. They are also relatively low in carbs and high in fiber, with about 7 carbs per 1/2 cup and 2 grams of fiber.
- Olive oil
- Wash beets well and trim the tops, leaving about 3 inches of stalk.
- Drizzle the beets with olive oil and a few pinches of salt
- Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour, or until tender. Time depends on the size of the beets. Start checking them around 30 minutes in.
- Let the beets cool. When cool enough to handle, slip the peels off. I normally use a paper towel or vegetable scrubber, but the peelings easily come off if you just rub them with your fingers or you can use a peeler or paring knife.
- You can serve the beets whole or you can slice and serve in a salad.
- 1 pound beet greens
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped onion or to taste
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- ¾ cup of water
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ⅙ cup of cider vinegar
- Chop the greens into the bite size pieces.
- Saute the onions in olive oil for about five minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add water, sugar and red pepper.
- Toss in beet greens. Mix well. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until tender. Stir in vinegar.