Cooktop Cove: Beets can be so delicious if you cook them following these 6 tips
Beets are one of those foods that people either love or hate. There's a good chance that those who hate them have only had them in their plainest form - boiled and served. Maybe they hate them because beets can be a little difficult to prepare. We're here to change all that.
There are a couple of tricks that can actually make beets easier to prepare, and once they're cooked just right, they bring a sweet earthy taste that can elevate any dish. That's not even mentioning the fact that this tasty root vegetable can be used in its entirety - from root to tip. Read on to learn our tips on how to cook beets, so you can start enjoying them, or enjoying them even more!
1. Know the different varieties of beets
When most people think of beets, they think of the deep red variety that, aside from their delicious taste, are mostly known for staining hands, cutting boards, and anything else they happen to come in contact with. If this is one of the reasons why you've stayed away from beets, maybe all you need is to try a different variety. If you love red beets, you'll also love playing around with all the different types of beets that are out there.
Red beets are of course, the most common, and while they're usually roasted, they are also great to use in dishes such as borscht. Red beets have a longer shelf life than most vegetables, similar to potatoes, although they will go a bit soft the longer they are stored.
Golden beets are a bit milder in taste all around than red beets. They're not as sweet, and they also don't contain as much of that earthy flavor that turn some off of red beets. Another plus, because of their golden hue they won't stain everything in sight the way that red beets can.
Candy cane beets get their name because of the natural stripes that are found inside the flesh. These stripes can also be found in either a golden or red color, with the stripes being a bit darker than the rest of the flesh. These beets are often sliced paper thin and served raw in salads and other cold dishes, as the stripes can fade or disappear altogether when these beets are cooked.
2. An easy way to peel beets
Beets can be difficult to work with. While their skin isn't very thick, beets are very hard when they are raw, which can make peeling them kind of a drag. If you've only tried hacking away at beets with a paring knife, you will be surprised to find out there are a couple of easier ways to peel them.
If you're going to be serving the beets raw, you will find that using a swivel vegetable peeler is much easier than attacking the beets with a knife and safer too. A peeler will slice right through that skin and remove it easily, while barely touching that firm flesh.
If you're going to cook the beets, it's actually best to cook the beets with their skin on, and then remove it. Doing this will make the skin peel right off with just a little bit of encouragement, such as wiping it away with your hand. Cooking beets with their skins on helps them retain their color and their nutritional value.
To cook the beets so that their skin comes off more easily, you can drop them in boiling water and boil the beets for about 30 minutes. Beets can also be roasted in a 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until they're tender. This method will also help you peel that skin right off.
3. Use the greens
Choosing beets that have the greens still attached is a great way to tell if your beets are fresh as the greens should be bright and crisp with no signs of browning or wilting. There's another reason to choose beets that still have their greens attached to them because they're not only edible, they're also incredibly delicious.
To use beet greens, wash them well and spin them in a salad spinner to dry (or blot with paper towels). Then saute them just as you would with spinach, Swiss chard, or any other leafy green. To make a truly dynamic and colorful beet dish, saute the beets first until they are soft and then add the beet greens, sautéing just until they have slightly wilted. A drizzle of balsamic reduction once you have plated this dish, will make it truly amazing.
4. Eat them raw
The flesh of beets is so firm that many people wouldn't even think to eat them raw. It can be done however and in fact, raw beets have much more of their sweet flavor than they do after they're cooked.
To eat raw beets, slice them paper thin, preferably using a mandolin to get uniform slices and add them to salads. Pairing them with raw spinach and goat cheese can be brilliant when serving them this way. You can also grate raw beets and make a slaw along with grated carrots. Toss them in with a citrus dressing and you're in for something very special!
5. Pickle them
Even those who claim to dislike beets often like them when they are pickled. When you buy pickled beets at the grocery store, you're not only losing out on taste, but you could also be consuming preservatives. Beets are so inexpensive that you can save yourself some money by just making them at home.
To do it, boil beets for about 30 minutes or until they are tender. Remove their skins and slice or dice them however you most enjoy pickled beets. Combine these ingredients: 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add them a saucepan. Add your sliced or diced beets and bring the entire mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, and then place beets and the pickling mixture into an airtight container. It will stay for up to one month in the fridge and can be used any time you need to brighten up a cheese platter, or just want a delicious snack.
6. Make Harvard beets
No one really knows where Harvard beets originated from. The dish however has been around for generations. This recipe takes beets and places them in a sweet and sour sauce that's somewhat similar to pickling them. Harvard beets swim in a thickened sauce, are typically served hot, and have a few different flavorings than their pickled counterparts.
The recipe starts again by boiling the beets with their skins still on until they are tender. Then the skin can be peeled right off and the beets are tender enough to slice into 1/4" thick rounds or keep them whole. In a wide saucepan, thoroughly combine: 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup cold water, and 2 whole cloves. Bring the mixture up to a boil over medium heat while stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Once the mixture has boiled and thickened, add the beets and gently stir to coat each piece. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, stir again to melt, and then serve.
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