Beets, those quick-staining, rough-looking growths that come from under the ground, are not exactly the sexiest members of the vegetable kingdom. They also have a distinct, earthy flavor which can be off-putting to picky eaters. But they’re staples in most Eastern European cuisines because they grow well in harsh climates and they’re packed full of nutrients. They’re on sale right now in the grocery stores, and they’re also one of the few vegetables you can consistently grow here in Laramie. So why not give them a try? If you select them carefully and prepare them simply, you just might grow to love them…or at least like them…
1. Don’t buy them from a can. You know how canned green beans and canned corn taste very little like their fresh counterparts? Same with beets.
2. Don’t buy they biggest ones in the store. They are sweeter and more delicious when they’re a little bit smaller, rather than gigantic. The big ones are either old from having been left in the ground for a while or just lacking in flavor.
3. Cook ‘em like this:
Nicole’s easy, delicious beet preparation
5-6 medium-size beets, with greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups beef or vegetable broth
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon or horseradish mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sour cream or Greek-style yogurt (optional)
Remove the beets from the greens, trim off the pointy roots on the end, and scrub clean. Tightly wrap each beet in a square of foil, place all wrapped beets on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish, and bake in the oven at 450°F (no need to preheat) for 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the greens off the stalks, clean, and tear into bite-size pieces. Clean the spinach, too, and drain all the greens in a colander until you’re ready for them.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat; when the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and both veggies are soft, about 10 minutes. At this point I usually throw in a pinch of salt.
Add the garlic, vinegar, and greens and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Stir the mustard into the beef broth and combine thoroughly. Add broth to the pan, reduce heat to low, and cover. Allow to cook gently for about 15 minutes.
When the beets are done, remove them from the oven and dump them, still foil-wrapped, into a sinkful of cold water. This is to avoid burning yourself. Unwrap each beet and remove the skin, which should almost slide off, with a pairing knife. Chop beets (they should still be firm) into bite-size pieces and add to the greens that are cooking on the stove. Stir to incorporate, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with pierogies, steamed potatoes, or rice. Top the whole mess with sour cream or yogurt if you like that (I do).
Never miss another meal; subscriber to Laramie Cooking Examiner today!