It seems like spring has arrived for real. But just in case it gets cold again, here’s a great hearty vegetable to keep you full: beets. Most people probably have never eaten beets, and if you have, not many like them. One of the more uncommon vegetables, beets have never made an impact on our diets quite like broccoli or corn has, but it definitely is worth a second, or first, try.
Even if you haven’t heard of beets, it doesn’t mean you’ve never eaten them before. Beets have many different cultivated varieties, one being the sugar beet, which is important in the production of table sugar. Another cultivated variety is chard, a big leafy vegetable that looks similar to kale.
Beets as a root vegetable are recognizable by their bright purple/pink color, although some varieties come in a golden and white color as well. Because of their bright purple/pink color, beet juice is sometimes used as a colorant or dye in both food and non-edible products. Beets themselves are high in dietary fiber and folate and can be prepared in many different ways, ranging from roasting and boiling to pickling and pureeing.
One of the most popular uses for beets is in Eastern European cultures where borscht, a beetroot soup, is prepared. It’s easily recognizable by the milky bright pink/purple color.
Beets are easiest to prepare by roasting them, although roasting beets is a little different than roasting other vegetables and takes a lot longer.
To roast beets, take each beet (no need to wash or peel) and wrap them individually in aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 400°F and place the wrapped beet in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour. After they have cooked, take them out of the oven, unwrap the foil (careful, these babies will be hot), and rinse the beet under cold water. If they have been cooked long enough, the skin should come off fairly easily while rinsing. Just push the skin off. (Note: Your hands will be very pink during/after if you let it dry on your skin. Rubbing oil on your hands can help prevent this.)
After peeling the skin off, slice the beets into bite size pieces, toss them in olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, and roast them again in the oven, on a tray or in a baking dish. When you can stick a fork easily into the beet, they are done.
This is a little time consuming, but they are super sweet and might change your mind about beets.