Beets for Beginners

beets roasted sliced diced

Beets are polarizing. Love them or hate them, it’s their earthy flavor that evokes a range of reactions.

I recently served beets at a dinner party, and the conversation took a swift turn to childhood beet stories—some fond and bucolic; others of beet standoffs that usually ended in being sent to bed without dinner. While my hunch is most of those beets went from can to table, their seasonal spring counterpart needn’t be so controversial. The key to broad beet appeal is to contrast their earthy flavor with acid-driven vinaigrettes and pair them with something creamy, transforming the little roasted roots into a dish that appeals to beet eaters at every point on the spectrum. Shaved, roasted or steamed, baby beets are delicate and sweet, and their greens tender and mild. Roasting beets in parchment or foil with some herbs and olive oil enhances their delicate flavor and also accentuates their vivid colors (with the added bonus of easy peeling). At the farmers market I have rescued beet greens on their way to the compost, because the often-discarded leaves can be used in much the same way as any other greens—sautéed, steamed or made into a delicious pesto.

Easy Beet Recipes for Beginners:

Beet Chips with Dill and Horseradish Créme Fraiche
Dill and horseradish are a classic and time-honored combination, and the addition of crème fraiche brings all the flavors together. Try to use a variety of beets for this recipe, including golden and Chioggia, which results in an especially colorful presentation. Click here for recipe.

Beet Green Tart with Spring Vegetables
Turning beet greens into an earthy pesto is an easy way to spread beet love to those who may not appreciate the root ends, and just a small amount of shaved and chopped spring vegetables bring big fresh flavors to this simple tart (this is a great way to use the odds and ends of spring veggies in your CSA box). Click here for recipe.

Beet Relish Crostini with Fromage Blanc The diced beets in this relish begin to sparkle like ruby jewels when spooned on top of the fromage blanc, making these crostini a great beet conversation starter. Bonus: This relish is very versatile; its lightly pickled flavor pairs well with most seafood or meats. Click here for recipe.