Beets belong to the same family as chard and spinach, but the entire plant is edible...leaves, stems, and root.
The root of the beet has long been used for medicinal purposes, primarily for disorders of the liver, given their stimulating effects on the liver's detoxification processes. Beets have also traditionally been valued as a blood tonic, good for anemia, the heart, and circulation. They purify the blood, alleviate constipation, and aid the liver. Beets have also been reported for their anti-cancer properties.
Beet roots are high in natural sugar, fiber, and folic acid. The greens have notable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C.
Beet eaters may experience beeturia, a red or pink color in the urine or stool. It is a totally harmless condition. According to nutritionist Jeffrey Bland, pink urine might indicate an iron deficiency while magenta stool indicates adequate iron.
When boiling beet roots, leave the peel on, as well as the root tips and 1 inch of the stem to prevent the beets from "bleeding". The beets will easily peel after boiling. Also, cooking with acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar will brighten the beet color, while cooking with alkaline substances, such as salt, blunts their color. If possible, add salt to the dish at the end of cooking.
- Sauteed, steamed
- Raw, as an additional green in a lettuce salad
- Raw and grated in salads or as garnishes for soups
- Roasted or grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Juiced! Tastes great combined with carrot and apple juice.
- Cooked in the popular Russian soup, borscht
- Combines well with the flavor of ground coriander
Fresh beets with the greens attached can be stored for three to five days in the refrigerator, but beets with the greens removed can be stored for two to four weeks. If you will be storing beets for longer than a couple of days, cut the majority of the greens and stems from the roots so they do not pull moisture away from the root. Leave about 1-2 inches of stem attached to the root. Store the unwashed greens in a separate perforated plastic bag, where they will keep fresh for about four days.
Yield: 4-6 Servings
- 1 large onion, chopped
- olive oil
- vegetable or chicken stock
- 4 large beets, cubed
- 1 large potato, cubed
- other vegetables: celery spinach, carrots, kale, chard, etc, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- plain yogurt
Saute onion for a few minutes in olive oil in a large pot. Add the other vegetables (except leafy green which would be added near the end) and saute until fragrant. Add stock and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper and serve each bowl with a generous portion of yogurt in the center of the soup.
Beet and Onion Salad
- 1 pound beets
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or your favorite vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, sliced thin
- herb of your choice
- Set a pot of water to boil that is large enough to cover the beets. Cook beets in simmering water until they are tender, but not soft.
- While beets are cooking, prepare salad dressing. Combine lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper, mustard, and honey. Whisk in olive oil.
- Drain beets and remove their skins if they easily slide off. Let cool briefly and then slice thin. Combine with salad dressing while they are still warm.
- Add onions just before serving so that they can retain their contrasting color. Garnish with the herb of your choice.
Chocolate Beet Cake
Yield: 10-12 Servings
Accumulating beets? This moist cake can win the hearts of those who don't even like beets! It comes from the Farmer John's Cookbook and is recommended by garden members.
- oil and flour for preparing the cake pan
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1 cup canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 and 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups pureed cooked beets (about 3 medium beets)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly coat a 10-cup Bundt pan or two loaf pans with oil and dust with flour.
- Partially fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer. Put the chocolate and 1/4 cup of the oil in the top of the double boiler. Heat just until the chocolate melts; remove from heat and stir until well combined.
- Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly beat in the remaining 3/4 cup oil, chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla.
- Sift the all-purpose flour and whole-wheat pastry flour into a large bowl. Stir in the baking soda and salt. Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg and chocolate mixture just until flour is mixed in. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes for the Bundt or 25 minutes in the loaf pan. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let cool on the rack. When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.
Grated Beet Salad with Cilantro and Cumin
Yield: 4-6 servings
This salad can be served raw or barely blanched. If blanching, dip the beets briefly in salted boiling water, drain, and towel dry.
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- zest and juice of two limes
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 pound beets, grated
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Combine garlic, salt, lime zest and juice, cumin, and coriander in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Whisk in oil until desired consistency and taste is desired. Combine with grated beets and cilantro.
Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad
Yield: 4 servings
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
- 6 cups fresh arugula
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
- 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
- 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.
Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.