Having been rather beeten down by a mountain of beets, I turned to my Facebook readers, who generously suggested some new and thrilling recipes for this unmistakable vegetable.
Most of my own favorite recipes, unsurprisingly, minimize the sweetness and hail from Eastern European roots. These include the spectacular molded Russian chopped beet, herring, vegetable, and egg salad called Herring under a Fur Coat that Portland’s Kachka has made fashionable again. Or perhaps my Polish-style grated salad of sauerkraut, apple, carrot and beet (mixed at table). And I always have on hand beet kvass to sip or fortify cold borschts.
But shall we head over to India with a beet raita and pickled mustard-seed beet stem relish instead?
If none of my recipes appeal, you might like some of these:
- Similar in style to beet kvass, you might try fermented beet pickles.
- Nutritionist Yaakov Levine suggests a simple raw salad of cups grated raw beets, juice of one lemon, 2 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of fresh dill.
- A cumin-scented, grated beet quinoa with chickpeas? Why not?
- The Master Food Preservers turned me on to this beet chocolate cake at a potluck.
- Cinnamon-poached beets, which are braised in liquid with cinnamon sticks.
- “Dirt candy!” said one reader, recommending roasting simply. Some folks use olive oil, and some use butter, plus salt and pepper. I always add thyme, and orange zest if I have it, when I’m roasting beets in foil. It’s a great shortcut to peeling beets, as well, since the skins slip right off after roasting.
- My favorite recipe is a warm salad that uses light-colored beets, parsnips, a fruity vinegar, and plenty of grated ginger.
- Chef Yotam Ottolenghi does beets, I am told, with tomatoes, preserved lemons, roasted red peppers and more. The word in the Math-Science library on campus is “It’s delicious.”
- Beet salad with walnuts and feta or a walnut oil vinaigrette, adding rosemary and/or parsley, or go more exotic with a:
- Moroccan-style beet salad with mint, grapefruit, and red onion, or Lebanese-style with pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and mint.
- Belly’s delicious beet, red cabbage, capers, creme fraiche and mint chopped salad is a must in early spring as soon as the mint comes up. Here’s my version with fennel fronds.
- Or get even more creative with your pomegranate molasses and try Chef Chris DeBarr’s “Beet the Day ravioli,” which is a name I just made up: “Roast ‘em (yellow ones give the best illusion of pasta), peel ‘em, slice ‘em as thinly as possible, whip soft chèvre with truffles (peelings are okay, but I frown on truffle oil), stuff a good dab of the trufflicious goat cheese on a round, top with another thin round. In the restaurant we took it next level by briefly heating the faux ravioli in a hot oven in avocado oil (cuz it is more heat stable than olive oil and rich yet neutral in taste), finishing with pomegranate molasses and red wine syrup from Sardinia called saba, and sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt…but you can just use the inexpensive pom molasses and call it a day.” OK, will do!
- In Australia, my friend and fellow travel writer Richard Sterling recounts, they put a slice of beet on a cheeseburger, reminding me of:
- PartyDowntown’s beet ketchup for winter months when tomatoes aren’t in season.
- Chopped beets with brown butter, ricotta, and pistachio as a topping for thick short pasta shapes was suggested, and I heartily agree: the beet/soft white cheese/pistachio is one of my favorite flavor and color combinations. See, for example, Melissa Clark of the NYT’s recipe here. Or take a hint from 900 Wall restaurant in Bend, which turns the pistachio into a pesto and serves the beets and cheese à la caprese.
- Another pasta recipe you might try includes chopped beets, Oregon blue cheese from Rogue creamery, and beet greens sauteed in a little olive oil.
- Beets and grains go well together. I remember having a wonderful wafer-thin raw beet and emmer wheatberry salad with goat cheese, showered with sesame and sunflower seeds, at Sitka and Spruce in Seattle a few years ago. Or sample, as a reader suggested, a beet risotto with goat cheese and hazelnuts.
- And if all else fails, put them “In the compost. Don’t look back.”