We got the beets: What to do with this colourful vegetable


  • Features
  • Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015

These recipes for pasta and brownies will fool everyone into eating their veggies.

My sister and I were taking a break at my house a few weeks ago, watching one of Nigella Lawson’s cooking shows. She was wearing white, from bottom to top, and had white gloves on. Very elegant. Then she picked up a red beet.

Beets are beautiful ... and messy. I have dyed my cutting boards beet red quite a few times dicing and slicing this root vegetable. We watched in awe as she worked with the bright red veggie without staining her clothing.

Inspired by that show and the fact that beets are showing up in CSA (community-supported agriculture) share boxes, I asked my sister if she or her husband knew of any good beet recipes. Shari responded, “Well, John’s co-workers like pickled beets. But he won’t eat them.”

What about simply roasted beets?

“He won’t eat them.”

Beetroot pasta?

“He won’t eat them.”

Beet brownies?

“He won’t...”

OK, fine.

I’ll find some other unsuspecting, uh, tasters.

Luckily, I work in a place where just about any food is welcome, especially if it’s homemade.

The 30-minute risotto-style beetroot pasta was divvied up by three co-workers as it left the photo studio. Wasn’t even offered up to the room.

The pasta was fun and easy to prepare (and really quick ... and tasty). The recipe calls for chicken broth, but I made it with vegetable stock since there are a couple of vegetarians in the office.

The brownies, I left on a communal shelf without mentioning the secret ingredient. They were gone, and pan cleaned and returned to me the following morning.

So, although my brother-in-law won’t eat them, a lot of folks really like beets.

Tips for handling beets

  • Beet juice can stain the skin, so wear kitchen gloves when handling the vegetables. Lemon juice can remove beet stains. 
  • To minimise beet bleeding, wash beets gently under cool running water. 
  • If you are roasting or boiling beets, it’s best to peel them after cooking. The skins can be removed with a damp cloth. 
  • Adding ¼ cup of white vinegar to 8 cups of water when boiling will keep beet colour bright. 
  • Beet greens, as well as the raw beet root, can be used in salads.

Beets five easy ways

Boil: Wash and leave 2.5cm of stalk and root on beets. Place whole beets in large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar per 2 liters of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes until done. Remove from heat and cool. Cut off stems and root and rub off skins. Serve sliced or mashed with butter, salt and pepper.

Oven roast: Preheat oven to 200°C. Wash, peel and quarter beets. Arrange pieces on a baking sheet, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat with oil. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender.

Bake: Preheat oven to 200°C. Wash and leave 2.5cm of stalk and root on beets. Wrap beets with two layers of aluminum foil. Place foil package on baking sheet and cook for one hour or until tender. When done, remove from foil, trim off stalk and root and rub skins off with damp towel.

Steam: Prepare as if boiling then place in a steamer over boiling water. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and plunge into cold water then remove skins with damp towel.

Microwave: Wash, peel and cube beets. Arrange cubes on a glass microwavable dish, add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid and cook on high for 5 minutes, stir, then heat for 3 minutes or until fork tender. – The State (Columbia, SC)/Tribune News Services

SEE THE RECIPES:
30-Minute Risotto-Style Beetroot Pasta
Fudgy Dark Chocolate Beet Brownies


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