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Beets / Beetroots & Recipes

 

By Jennifer A. Wickes
Other Articles by Jennifer A. Wickes

See also: Beeting the French; Beets; Beet Cooking Tips; Beet Quotes

Recipes below
History / Geography
Beets have been eaten since prehistoric times. They originated off the sandy soil coast of southern Europe. They are used widely in Flemish and Slav dishes, for example, Borsht and Botvinya.

Science
Beta vulgaris
Closely related to swiss chard, spinach and quinoa.

Varieties
There are numerous varieties: Common Beets (for consumption and for food coloring); Golden Beets; White Beets; Chiogga (otherwise known as Candy Cane due to its white and red marbling color); Sugar Beets (used for sugar production and fermentation); and, Mangold (mainly for fodder) are some of the most popular.

Season
June - October

How to Select
Choose beets that are 1.5 - 3 inches in diameter. At least a half-inch of the beet greens should be attached. The greens, if present, should be bright, dark green and healthy. The beets should be smooth and round with a deep color.
     Avoid beets with bruises, with soft and moist spots, and ones that are light for their size. Larger beets will contain woody centers. Also, avoid yellowish greens.

Storage
Remove the greens, and leave 1/2-inch attached. The greens tend to draw moisture from the beets. Leaving some greens behind will prevent the beets from leaking. Store beets unwashed in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
     To store the greens, remove them from the beets (leaving 1/2-inch left) in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Nutritional Qualities
Beets: Folic Acid, Potassium, Managanese. They help rid the body of fatty deposits. Beets are low in calories, despite being the vegetable with the highest sugar content.
Greens: Calcium, Iron, Beta-Carotene and anti-cancer agents. The greens also contain oxalic acid which prevents the body from absorbing calcium and iron. Do not eat a lot of beet greens as the oxalic acid can be toxic in high doses.

Languages

    甜菜甜菜根 = Chinese
    Rübenrote-Bete-Wurzeln = German
    Remolacha = Spanish
    Betterave = French
    Barbabietole = Italian
    Beterraba = Portuguese
    Beta = Latin
    Biatas = Gaelic
    Rodbeta = Swedish
    Biet = Dutch
    свекла = Russian
    τεύτλο = Greek
    شمندر = Arabic
     

 

Trivia
Beets are the Pagan symbol for love and beauty.

Tip
Betalains is the red compound in beets. To maintain beets' deep red color when cooking, create an acidic environment by using lemon juice or vinegar. If not, the beets' color will shift to a more violet color.

Laundry Hints
Due to beets' deep magenta color, they can stain anything. To remove beet juice from clothing:
Using white bread soaked in water, place on the stained area. If necessary, use more soaked white bread and continue until no further beet juice comes out of the stained area.

Rinse the item in cold water. Then, using a stain remover, apply to the area and scrub with a toothbrush. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.

Soak the item for 30 minutes in cold water and a color-safe bleach solution. Wash as you would regularly.

If this does not remove the stain, do not dry in the dryer. Begin the process again from the stain remover step.

Quote
“Everything I do, I do on the principle of Russian borscht. You can throw everything into it: beets, carrots, cabbage, onions, everything you want. What's important is the result, the taste of the borscht.”
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet

Wine Pairings
Merlot, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Tempranillo, Burgundy, Chianti Classico, Barbaresco, Bordeaux.

Flavor Affinities
Anise seeds, basil, caraway seeds, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coriander (ground), dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, goat cheese, herring, horseradish, mace, mustard, orange, parsley, potatoes, savory, sour cream, spinach, tarragon, vinegar and yogurt.

Equivalencies
Beets: 1 lb. trimmed = 2 c. chopped / sliced and cooked
Greens: 1 lb. fresh = 1 1/3 - 2 c. cooked

Preparation
Beets: Remove the greens, but leave 1/2-inch attached to the beet. Wash very carefully, so as not to remove the skin. Beets can be boiled, baked, roasted, used in soups or used fresh in salads or sandwiches. When cooking, use a toothpick to poke the beet to test for doneness. It should be easy to insert.
Greens: Remove from the beet, but leave 1/2-inch attached to the beet. Wash to remove excess sand. Use fresh or can be cooked like spinach and swiss chard.

Leftover Idea
When boiling beets, instead of throwing away the water used in the boiling process; strain it using a coffee filter. Then, freeze the juice in ice cube trays and use as a stock for soups and stews.


RECIPES

Roasted Baby Beet Salad
Adapted from "The Swedish Kitchen" by Helene Henderson
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 3 cups baby beets, any variety or a mix
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tbsp. red onion, minced
    • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tbsp. chives, minced
    • salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the beets with the olive oil. Place them in a small baking dish and cover. Bake for 1 hour or until the beets are cooked.

Allow the beets to cool, then peel the skin off the beets with a knife. Slice the beets thinly on a paper plate on top of a cutting board to prevent the beets from staining the cutting board.

In a small bowl, combine the beets, onions, vinegar, oil and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the flavors to marinate for at least one house before serving.

Serve on a bed or fresh beet greens. Top with some goat cheese and a few chopped walnuts.


Autumn Vegetable Sandwich
by Jennifer A. Wickes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

    • 2 slices of panini bread, toasted
    • 1 tbsp. horseradish
    • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
    • 1 baby beet, roasted and sliced
    • few leaves of arugula
    • 1 slice of red onion
    • 2 slices fresh mozzarella

Directions
Spread the horseradish onto one of the slices of toast. Spread the mustard onto the other piece of toast.

Arrange the beets, onions and mozzarella onto one of the pieces of toast. Top with some arugula and the other piece of toast.

Serve with a cup of potato-leek soup.


Roasted Root Vegetables
By Jennifer A. Wickes
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

    • 4 red potatoes -- quartered
    • 4 turnips -- quartered
    • 2 parsnips -- sliced 1" thick
    • 2 carrots -- sliced 1" thick
    • 1 yam -- cut 1" thick
    • 16 pearl onions -- peeled
    • 4 beets -- quartered
    • 8 garlic cloves -- peeled
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons basil, fresh
    • salt and pepper -- to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and cut the above vegetables into suitable sized chunks--preferably, big enough to put into one's mouth without having to cut it any further.

Let the vegetables sit on a paper towel to drain them of any excess water. Pat each piece dry. This will ensure that each piece comes out crispy.

Put all the vegetables into a Ziploc bag with the oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Zip it shut and make sure everything is coated completely.

Place the contents into a pan, and bake for one hour. No basting is necessary.

Jennifer A. Wickes is a freelance food writer, recipe developer and cookbook reviewer. She has written five eBooks, and has had numerous articles, reviews and recipes in printed publications, as well as on-line. Her work can be found in The Library Journal, Cook's Country magazine, Ernest & Julio Gallo's Turning Leaf Wine brochure, Bon Appetit, Better Homes and Garden and much more. She is working on her first cookbook. For more information about Jennifer or her work, please visit her home page:
http://home.comcast.net/~culinaryjen/Home.html

 

 

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