Winter farmers markets in the Seattle area are brimming full of these beautiful, nutritious, vibrantly colored root vegetables – beets! Packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, B, C, beta carotene, folic acid, and antioxidants, eating beets are an amazing way to promote health and wellness during winter months. If the idea of preparing these somewhat messy vegetables is holding you back, read on to see how easy it actually is! Add them to dishes for a flavorful side or toss them in with salads. Roast, boil, or grate away for a nutrient dense, antioxidant boost to your meals.
Roasting whole beets is an easy, low mess way to prepare them. Heat the oven to 400°. Begin by cutting off the top leaves about an inch above the root. (Don’t throw away the greens – read below!) Rinse the beets under cold water and then place whole beets on a large sheet of foil and wrap tightly. Roast until tender, about an hour. Remove, allow to cool, then “peel” by wrapping in a paper towel and rubbing the skins right off (seriously, it’s that easy!) Chop off the ends, slice, toss with olive oil, sea salt, and your favorite herbs and they are ready to go!
You can also chop beets before roasting to cut down on cooking time. Begin the same way, cutting greens off about one inch above the root. Rinse them under cold water and then trim off their ends and peel (optional) over a sink or on a cutting board covered with parchment paper. Chop and transfer slices to a parchment- or silicon mat-lined baking dish, toss with olive oil and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring them occasionally.
Beets can also easily be boiled. Once again, begin by cutting off the top leaves, using scissors or a knife, about an inch above the root. Rinse the whole beets under cold water and put into pan filled with cold water. Boil medium sized beets for about 45 minutes, checking the water level occasionally. Keeping the skin on while cooking helps to preserve their color and keep them from ‘bleeding’ off their color. After 45 minutes check for softness with a fork or knife. Once done, strain, rinse with cold water, trim, peel (the skin rubs off similarly to roasting) and add them to your favorite dish!
Beets are also delicious raw. Simply peel, grate, and add to salads. Done!
Not sure how to use your beets now that you’ve prepared them? Some of our favorite ways to enjoy them are beet hummus (see recipe below), in a salad with goat cheese and pistachios or roasted with other root veggies for a side dish (or as a breakfast hash with eggs!)
And what to do with the beet greens you just trimmed off? Don’t throw them out, they are delicious as well! Prepare them the same as you would with spinach or Swiss chard to add even more nutrients to your meal.
Roasted Beet Hummus
Serve alongside crispy vegetables like snap peas, carrots, or daikon, or spread on whole-wheat pita bread for a quick and easy snack.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
1 small beet
1 15 ounce can (1 3/4 cup) cooked chickpeas, mostly drained
zest of one large lemon
juice of half a large lemon
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
- Follow roasting instructions above
- Once beet is cooled and peeled, quarter it and place it in food processor. Blend until only small bits remain.
- Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil, salt and black pepper and blend until smooth.
- Drizzle in olive oil as the hummus is mixing.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding salt and black pepper to taste, and lemon juice or olive oil if needed. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water. Hummus will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Written by Emily, revised by Flannery, Bastyr University interns
Reprinted from Minimalist Baker, author Dana Shultz, February 2013.