Beets aren’t exactly known for their popularity. In fact, most people either don’t like them, or they think they don’t like them (having never tried them). But rest assured, the sweet flavor of a roasted beet is nothing like those tin can salad bar beets that most people associate with. I personally love the taste. They make an excellent and hardy addition to many dishes, and are a light option at only 37 calories per Beet. Since roasted Beets are not only delicious but also wildly nutritious, they are worth the little bit of extra preparation required. Here is a step by step guide on how I prepare them.
For this demonstration I am using Golden Beets I found at my local Farmer’s Market, but Red Beets are prepared in the same way. First things first, buy a bunch of beets that have healthy looking greens and no soft spots on the bulbs. Wash the whole vegetable, carefully removing any dirt from the bulbs.
Chop off the greens and stems, leaving about 1-3 inches still attached to the bulbs. Set the greens aside to eat later; you can steam or saute the tasty greens just like Swiss Chard. Leaving a small stem on the Beets will help keep the blushing or bleeding (particularly with the Red Beets) to a minimum.
When you peel the Beet first it tends to be a messy and tedious process (especially if your Beets are on the small side). Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife and carefully skin the vegetable like you would a potato. I personally remove the tops and chop into bite sized cubes when I do this method. This way, when they are finished cooking they are ready to serve.
You may also roast the Beet with it’s skin on. There is little work to be done at the beginning of the cooking process, but you will have some additional preparation to be done before serving. This method is less messy and tedious.
Set the oven to 375° and coat the Beets with olive oil and salt and pepper. For the peeled Beets – cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping 1/2 way through, for the whole Beets – cook 55-60 minutes.
Let the whole Beets cool enough to be handled and then gently rub the skin off with your hands. This is a very easy process – as long as the Beet is cool enough! Chop off the top and dice into cubes.
When compared you can easily see the different results. The peeled Beets are much smaller and both sides of the vegetable have nice (and tasty) caramelization. The whole Beets have lost a lot less water and have retained their size; they do not, however, have any direct caramelization.
In the end it is a personal choice as to which method you choose – mess and caramelization vs. size and ease. It can also depend on how you are planning to use them: the whole Beets can be mashed or cut down where as the peeled couldn’t; and the peeled Beets would be an excellent addition to a roasted vegetable dish as is, but the whole wouldn’t. One of my favorite ways to eat Beets is in a Beet Salad with Greens and Goat Cheese – it is an amazing combo and would be good with Beets cooked either way! In any case, give roasted Beets a try…you may just have a new favorite.