My sister and I were watching one of Nigella Lawson’s cooking shows. The chef was wearing white, from bottom to top, and had white gloves on. Very elegant. Then she picked up a red beet.
We watched in awe as she worked with the bright red veggie without staining her clothing.
Inspired by that show and the beets that show up in CSA (community-supported agriculture) 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.”
“He won’t eat them.”
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. The recipe calls for chicken broth, but I made it with vegetable stock since there are some vegetarians in the office.
The brownies I left on a communal shelf without mentioning the secret ingredient. They were gone – pan cleaned and returned to me – the next 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 minimize 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 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 8 cups of water when boiling will keep beet color bright.
▪ Beet greens, as well as the raw beet root, can be used in salads.
BEETS FIVE EASY WAYS
Boil: Wash and leave 1 inch 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 1/2 gallon 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 400. 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 400. Wash and leave 1 inch 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.
Risotto-style beetroot pasta
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium beets, peeled and diced small
1/2 pound short spiral pasta, uncooked
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn heat to low to keep the broth hot.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it starts to brown.
Add the diced beet and pasta to the skillet and cook while stirring until the pasta starts to look toasty (about 5 minutes).
Add 1 cup of the hot broth to the pasta mixture and stir constantly. Wait until almost all of the broth is absorbed before adding more broth, one cup at a time. Cook until pasta is tender but still firm (about 10-15 minutes). There might be some leftover broth.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, chopped parsley, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
Fudgy dark chocolate beet brownies
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Makes 16-25 brownies (depending on how you cut the pan)
1/2 pound fresh beets, scrubbed
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for buttering parchment paper
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, or chips
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
Place beets in a saucepan and add water to cover by 1/2 inch. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-35 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to an ice bath until cool. Transfer cool beets to a food processor and pulse until minced.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9-by-9-inch brownie pan with parchment paper, lightly coat with butter.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs for about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and brown sugar, mix on medium high until light and airy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed and add minced beets, then slowly add melted chocolate and mix until just combined. Slowly add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula.
Bake 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow brownies to cool before cutting and serving.
Shaved golden beet, carrot and radish salad
Prep time: 20 minutes
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon raw honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Freshly ground pepper to taste
For shaved salad:
4 small golden beets, peeled
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut in two
1 small bunch of radishes, trimmed and cleaned
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl
Thinly slice the beets, carrot and radishes on a mandolin or in a food processor with the slicing disc.
Toss the sliced vegetables with the dressing to coat evenly. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper.