The versatile vegetable beet can be boiled, baked, pureed, pickled, roasted and served hot or cold. The brightly colored root is the usual choice for food, but the leafy tops, or beet greens, are edible as well. Beet greens can be used in salads or cooked as spinach or dandelion greens.
The Many Facets of Beet Recipes
Cook beet roots whole and unpeeled, with the leaves just trimmed and the top intact. This prevents loss of the nutrients. When the roots are cooked, hold them under cold running water and you can easily slip them out of their skins, which should be discarded.
When making beet recipes that call for boiling, they can be served as is, with butter, or pickled in vinegar with spices or herbs such as dill. "Harvard" beet recipes make a sweet and sour dish: they are made with sugar and vinegar and then thickened with cornstarch.
Whenever working with boiled beets, use caution when splashing the water about. Beet juice stains and is almost impossible to get out of some items. Also, don't boil them when preparing for a fancy dinner party, as they do not smell very pleasant when they are boiling. Be prepared to open windows and leave the fan on.
Beets in Salads
Select young small beets for pickling and use whole and larger ones for cubing or quartering. This root vegetable partners well with cabbage, green beans, cold beans in bean salad, and on lettuce salads with chickpeas. Add in the leafy tops to use up more of the root.
Baking and Roasting
Roasting in a hot oven adds a depth of flavor to any food by helping to release its natural sugars, and cooking beets this way is no exception. Roast them whole, or slice them and sprinkle them slightly with olive oil and sea salt to complement their finished flavor.
Experiment for Flavor
Beets don't just come in ruby red - they come in golden yellow as well. Experiment with the different ways of preparing beets and with the different varieties to get a colorful and flavorful addition to any meal.