Most of the seasonal produce in winter is low-key, that is, except for beets. With their splash of color and tender texture, this root vegetable brings a touch of sweetness and glamour to any late winter dish.
Beets aren’t just gorgeous; they’re a super food too. Beets are rich in fiber, vitamin C, iron and potassium, and their pigment is full of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help protect against heart disease and some cancers. The greens attached to the beet are edible, delicious and also packed with their own vitamins and minerals. Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, but they have very little fat or calories.
Beet greens can be used in place of spinach or chard in recipes so don’t throw them away. The greens do leach moisture from the beetroot though, so cut them off, leaving about an inch of the stem attached, and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. (You’ll need to wash them and blot dry before using.) As for the beets, place them in a plastic bag and pop in the refrigerator.
Before cooking, wash the beets gently, trying not to pierce the skin. It provides a barrier during cooking that holds in the nutrients and color. Beets can be shaved and eaten raw in salads. They add a vibrant flavor and texture and pair beautifully with fennel, toasted nuts and goat cheese. Or blend them into a smoothie; their natural sweetness works well with fruits. You can boil beets, but roasted beets are even more delicious. Place whole, unpeeled beets in aluminum foil pouch, leaving it open at the top. Drizzle with olive oil and a teaspoon of water, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 25-30 minutes. A knife should be able to pierce through the beet without any resistance. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets.
With a pan of roasted beets in the kitchen, the world is your oyster. At home, puree them to use as a spread on crostinis or toss in an arugula salad with a little blue cheese. Toss them into soups or risottos, add to sandwiches, or do it up Aussie-style and top your burger with slices of roasted beets. Or keep it super simple, and just sprinkle with salt and pepper and dig in. As for beets in the restaurant, well, you'll just have to join us in March to enjoy a tasting menu featuring beets, in some capacity, in every course.