Beets are a pretty contentious vegetable; people usually either love them or hate them. They are marvelously good for you, though, and I’d love to tempt some of the beet-skeptics into trying them. I have a plan…
I’m about to step away from the computer for the holiday weekend and my parents are coming to visit. This is incredibly good timing, because my mom is NUTS about beets. What luck! There will be beets at the market on Saturday. (One of my favorite things to do is to bring guests and family from out of town to the market on Saturdays. I am so darned proud of our market!) Mom is already excited about the fresh beets we’ll be adding to our dinner table this weekend.
So this quick post is to give you three levels of beet-commitment to consider. Here goes.
Level One: The Beet Lover
Profile: You love beets in any form. You’ll even eat them plain. (I am not one of these people.)
Preparing beets for these eaters is easy. My mom is one of these admirably unfussy people; once cooked, she simply peels and slices them and adds a pat or two of butter with a bit of salt and pepper. Directions:
- Cut off the tops (save for another use) and wash the beets under cold water.
- Place them in a large pot and cover with water; bring the water to a boil and simmer the beets until they are soft, to taste. My mom likes them very soft; some prefer their beets a little bit hard. Use a fork to test for the amount of softness that you prefer.
- Drain and cool so that you are able to handle them; gently remove skin with your hands (like I said, make sure they are cool enough to handle).
- Add a bit of butter, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, warm, or cold (but Mom likes them hot).
Level Two: Your Beets Need Friends
Profile: Beets are a bit…strong for you, but are much more appealing with contrasting flavors and textures. Fruit, nuts, cheese (especially goat or feta), greens and (try this one!) sliced avocado are great options. The key is having a good dressing; I like to make sure that the dressing is either on the sweet side or the tangy side and a favorite one for me is citrus-based. This one would be great.
A beet salad is a great way to pair boiled or roasted beets with multiple, contrasting flavors. I adore beets with bitter or spicy greens like arugula, but any green will do, including lettuce or spinach. I also love beets with feta – a Greek salad at one of many Coney Islands (that’s a type of restaurant, by the way) in my hometown of Detroit is always served with beets.
Oranges are probably my favorite beet comrades; citrus complements that bossy beet flavor nicely. Many fruits are flexibly beet-adjacent. A quick internet search will give you lots of ideas. Here is a NY Times Food recipe (don’t forget that this app/site is free, just create an account) that combines a lot of these elements. In these kinds of salads, you can be creative with whatever you’ve got in the fridge, on the counter or in the pantry.
Level Three: Beet Boss
Profile: You’re going to show up at that party with a dip no one can resist and its going to be healthy too.
My friend Amy often brings a dip like this * with her to gatherings, which makes her already-surging popularity (really, she is the best) go through the roof. By that I mean to say that the dip goes quickly and that otherwise gentle people with longstanding friendships suddenly find themselves elbowing each other rather aggressively to get to the food table. Trust me: make this dip.
*I realized when I googled this recipe that there, not surprisingly, many variations on this type of dip, so I picked the one with the best looking web site! But I’ll see if I can track down the exact one she uses, because it’s awesome. Serve with those gourmet pretzel chips from the grocery store.
How’s that for some beet love? I dare you beet skeptics to try it. Tell me what you think.
Enjoy! – J.S.