Beets. A vegetable everyone recognizes for their bright colour, but (if you’re like me) has no idea what to do with. The first time I came across a beet was when I was 22 years old and living in Australia (my parents are not the most adventurous of eaters, so they were never in our house growing up). This finger-staining, weird tasting veggie was actually stacked in a burger. WEIRD. A friend ordered it and I remember looking at them like they were crazy. I’ve heard of a pineapple in a burger, but a beet?! I was too skeptical at the time to try it, but after seeing this combination on every burger shack menu, I caved. Wow, was I surprised! The mixture of cheese, bun, burger, beet and tomato was unbelievably good. I suggest trying this the next time you throw some burgers on the BBQ – your friends will be impressed.
But how do you prepare a beet? The things are pretty much inedible raw, with a texture very similar to a potato. Not something you chomp into like you would an apple. If I had to hazard a guess, this is one of the reasons they are so unpopular in the home kitchen. They also tend to stain the hell out of everything they touch (counter tops, hands, tables, etc). I admit that I was totally intimidated by the thing, having known about its tastiness but waiting 10 years to actually try and prepare one at home.
I dived in this summer, due to the fact that our neighbors grew them in their garden and gifted us a handful. I was too embarrassed to chuck them out, so decided that I’d take the plunge and figure out what to do with the bastards. Turns out that they are SUPER easy to make. Like, embarrassingly easy, to the point where I had to go to the farm down the road and buy 20 so we could eat them at every meal.
Prepare a Beet in 3 Easy Steps
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the root and greens off the beet - should look like the photo on the right.
You can save the greens as they are a yummy addition to salads, or can be sautéed as a lovely side dish (similar to kale). I say “yummy” with a grain of salt though as personally I don’t like the taste of beet greens. Or kale. Gross.
Step 2: Wrap the beet (skin on) in aluminum foil, place on a cooking sheet and bake at 400F for 1 hour. DO NOT FORGET TO PUT A COOKING SHEET UNDERNEATH. I did that the first time and ended up spending hours scrubbing burnt, sticky, bright purple goop off the bottom of the oven.
Step 3: Once cooled, rub the skin off the beets with a paper towel. They will come off easily. Slice, marinate if your wish, and serve!
- Beets stain everything. If you don’t want your entire kitchen, or yourself, stained purple then I highly suggest using stain-resistant counter tops and bakeware. Also, it is a good idea to use gloves when handling the beets or, alternatively, washing your hands in hot, soapy water directly after handling one. Please don’t let their stain power scare you though! They are well worth the prep.
- If you are roasting many beets at a time, you can wrap them all up together in foil and bake - no need to wrap each individually. This trick came in extra handy the other day when I got 20 baby beets from the farm down the road. Took a quick snapshot below..
- Beets are meant to be marinated. Their flavor can be quite earthy (think dirt), but toss them in a bit of olive oil, garlic and vinegar and they become the most delicious things you have ever tasted. Check out my white wine marinated beets, goats cheese and avocado stack, or roasted beet, chicken and goats cheese salad recipes to get an idea of how these are best served.