They bury their heads in the ground. People hardly talk about them, and they cook with them even less. Could we be talking about the sweetest vegetable in the entire veggie kingdom? I thought we were a sweet-lovin’ nation. Beets are colorful, sugary and wonderful and should adorn your menu often. If you need more convincing, consider this: beets contain a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains, powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and detoxification qualities. They also contain two carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin, particularly known for their role in protecting eye health and preventing common age-related eye problems involving the macula and the retina. Boasting a mere 43 calories, one 2-inch beet has 3 grams of fiber plus loads of potassium, manganese and folate.
My favorite way to cook beets is roasting them because I think it brings out more of their inherent sweetness (as opposed to steaming). It’s also easier to peel them once they’ve been roasted (I’ll always take easier these days). Once roasted, you can slice beets and toss them into salads and side dishes or arrange them over roasted chicken and pork. Since they’re sweet, beets partner very well with tangy and salty ingredients (think vinegar, Dijon mustard, feta, gorgonzola, tart apples, salty nuts, etc.). Here’s the skinny on roasting the perfect beet.
Roasting beets 101:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash beets to remove all dirt and debris. Trim ends and remove greens (reserve greens for another use – they’re awesome sautéed with olive oil and garlic). Toss beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange beets in large, shallow roasting pan, in a single layer. Bake 45-60 minutes, until a knife easily slides into the largest beet. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin with your fingers, a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Use as directed or enjoy plain with a little salt and pepper.
Beet Salad with Green Onions, Feta and Herbs
If you can, prepare this salad while the beets are still slightly warm (too warm will melt the feta). Warm beets will soak up the flavors of the other ingredients.
2 bunches fresh beets, (about 3 pounds with leaves and stems; about 8 beets), ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces crumbled garlic and herb feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roast and peel beets as directed above. Slice each beet into 4 wedges and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard. Fold in beets, green onions and parsley. Stir in feta cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.
Nutrition Info Per Serving
Total Fat: 6.6 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.2 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 13 grams
Sugars: 8 grams
Protein: 5 grams
Sodium: 280 milligrams
Cholesterol: 10 milligrams
Fiber: 4 grams