All About Beets
Featured Recipe: A Pair of Roasted Beet Salads
Easy Beets in a Foil Packet with Balsamic Vinegar and Walnuts
More Ideas for Beets

All About Beets

When you bring your beets home, cut off the greens, about one inch from the root. You can consider the greens a bonus vegetable! Greens can be wrapped loosely in a damp paper towel and stored in a bag or container. Even if you are going to discard the greens, for best results, store the roots without their greens. Beets can be stored loose in the crisper drawer.

If you can’t use them right away, beets are good keepers. They will store in the refrigerator for at least a month.

Of course, you can eat beets raw, but my favorite way to prepare beets is to roast them. For one thing, roasting concentrates the flavors, making them extra sweet. For another thing, you don’t have to peel them before you cook them.

To roast, gently scrub the beets with a brush to remove most of the dirt. Place the beets in a baking dish, add about 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the pan, and cover with foil. Roast the beets in a preheated 400F oven for 45-60 minutes, until they’re tender when tested with a skewer.

Once the beets are cooked and slightly cooled, you can slide the skin off with your fingers. (Some people complain their fingers get stained. This never happens to me, but if you are concerned, you can wear gloves, though not your housecleaning gloves, or work through a plastic bag.) You also store cooked (peeled or unpeeled) in the refrigerator for a few days before you use them.

You could also boil or steam whole beets. Again, you can peel them after cooking, if you wish, unless the recipe asks you to start with raw diced beets before cooking.

Beets can come in many colors. Typically, we see the dark red ones, but you might also see golden beets and chioggia beets (sometimes called candy cane beets). When adding red beets in a dish with a variety of ingredients, add them last because their color tends to run and stain the other ingredients if they sit together for a long time. Because of their lighter color, golden and chioggia beets don’t tend to stain.

A Pair of Roasted Beet Salads

I didn’t discover beets until I was an adult.  Once I tried them, I was hooked.  You can roast the beets ahead of time.  On a hot summer day, I will roast the beets early in the morning when my (un-air-conditioned) kitchen is coolest.  My favorite way to use them is in a beet and walnut salad.

Once they’re cooked, always taste your beets before you mixing up the salad.  Every once in a while, instead of being sweet, they can taste overly earthy.  When this happens, I change gears and use a honey-balsamic dressing instead, which compensates for the missing sweetness in the beets.  This dressing is also delicious when your beets taste exactly as they should.

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 bunch beets
  • 3-4 scallions, sliced thin
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted for 5-10 minutes (while the beets are roasting) and coarsely chopped

Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp walnut oil or olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Scrub the beets well. Place them in a baking dish. Add about ¼ inch of water and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour, or until the beets are tender. Cool the beets until they can be handled. At this point, you can slip the skins off the beets.

Shake the vinaigrette ingredients to combine in a jar.

Dice the beets into ½-inch pieces. Combine the beets with the scallions and walnuts, and toss with the dressing.

Honey Beet Salad

  • 1 bunch beets
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Scrub the beets well. Place them in a baking dish. Add about ¼ inch of water and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour, or until the beets are tender. Cool the beets until they can be handled. At this point, you can slip the skins off the beets.

Shake the vinaigrette ingredients to combine in a jar.

Dice the beets into ½-inch pieces. Combine the beets with the red onion, and toss with the dressing.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Betsy Pollack is a LexFarm board member with a passion for cooking.  She tries to eat as mindfully as possible, thinking about where food comes from, geographically and otherwise, eating seasonally, and supporting local agriculture.

Easy Beets in a Foil Packet with Balsamic Vinegar and Walnuts

This recipe is from The Vegetarian Grill by Andrea Chesman. It’s really simple to make and is oh-so-delicious.
  • 4 medium beets (approx 3/4 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Cut beets into 1/2 inch slices.  Toss with the oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a large piece of foil and seal the packet so no liquid or steam will escape.

Bake sealed packet at 425 degrees for 45-60 minutes until fork tender. Or grill the packets over medium hot grill for 20-25 minutes (baby beets will take about 15 minutes). Serves 2.

More Ideas for Beets

There’s the classic beet and goat cheese salad that seems ubiquitous in restaurants — for good reason.

Toss roasted beets with a luscious garlic-walnut dressing.

No cooking required for a simple raw beet salad.

Add the greens to the beets in Roasted Beets and Beet Tops Salad or Summer Beet Salad with Pickled Beet Stems

Grating raw beets and carrots together makes a wildly-colored salad.  Choose a version that appeals to you:  maybe toss with French vinaigrette or ginger vinaigrette or maybe add an apple or some basil and parsley.

Beets also make a nice accent in salads where it isn’t the star like this Barley, Fennel, and Beet Salad.  You can substitute another hearty grain — try the 10-minute farro from Trader Joe’s.

Vegetarian cookbook author Deborah Madison has many variations for beet salads, with lentils, radicchio and blue cheese, or ricotta salata and olives.

Take a trip around the world with beet salads inspired by Morocco, Italy, and Turkey.

For an elegant touch, serve beet salad on a bed of almond butter and top it with a gorgonzola bomboloni (a cream puff, Italian style)!

Also try a beet salad that shares top billing with another ingredient like chickpeas, potatoes, kale, or lentils.

The sweetness of beets shines in soup, as the star or just a supporting player.

Beets are standard in borscht.  For summer, make a chilled version.  Wait until there’s a chill in the air this  fall to try a more hearty hot version, vegetarian or more traditionally with meat.

Beets hold their own in this simple cream of beet soup.

This beet and fennel soup with kefir is delicious served warm, but, on a hot day, would be nice served cold like vichyssoise.

This chilled beet soup uses the greens too, for more whole vegetable cooking.

The ginger, lime, and coconut milk in this soup gives it a tropical twist.

Finally, here’s another delicious soup from Seattle’s Cafe Flora: lentil beet soup.

Include any beet preparation in a composed salad. This colorful composed salad is a meal in itself. Or, serve marinated beets with baked falafel and other marinated, pickled, and raw vegetables, and tahini or yogurt sauce for a deceptively simple lunch or dinner.

Sliced raw beets are added to this summer abundance bowl.  Halloumi can be found at Trader Joe’s.

Whip up a batch of beet burgers.  Make these with rice and lentils (use peanut butter or almond flour instead of almond butter).  Other options are beet burgers with black beansmushrooms and walnuts, feta or a generous amount of smoked paprika.

With a stash of roasted beets in your refrigerator, you can add them to many other dishes like a beet risotto, with or without the beet greens.

Beets turn this pasta dish pink, giving it a festive air.

Sandwich a filling between raw beet slices for “rawvioli“.

Make red flannel hash for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  This version is vegetarian, but you can also add bacon or chopped corned beef.

Beets are naturally sweet, so try them for dessert.  Have you ever heard of beet ice cream?  Or add them to a chocolate cake or make red velvet cake or muffins (vegan or not).

Other Ideas
You probably ate pickled beets from a jar when you were a child.  Try pickling your own with garlic, pickling spice, or hard-boiled eggs.  Once you have pickled beets in the fridge, try them in salsa.

What about hot pink beet smoothies?  Here’s one with avocado and strawberries, another with mixed berries and granola, or several more ideas if you have a juicer.

Beet ketchup looks intriguing while we wait for the tomatoes to ripen.
If you still need more inspiration, check out this collection and this one.

Serve the greens and stems with whipped feta.

If you like kale chips, try Beet Green Chips

Substitute beet greens for the Swiss chard or spinach in Italian dumplings such as gnudi or strozzapreti.

Mix the beet greens with tofu and/or mozzarella and/or ricotta to stuff manicotti or shells.  Top with tomato sauce and bake.

Mix a small bunch of beet greens into a batch of simple tomato sauce and puree it.

Use the beet greens in place of spinach in Indian recipes, like Beet Greens Dal.

You can use the beet greens in many of the recipes we suggested in Week #1 for greens.

And if this isn’t enough, Sassy Radish has even more ideas for beet greens.