Beets are one of summer's most vibrant vegetables. They're great in a salad, in a dessert or roasted on their own. They're also easy to prepare.
When selecting beets, you'll want to chose ones that are heavy for their size. Try to pick out the ones without any cuts on their surface. You can tell if the beets are fresh if they are sold with their tops on and the tops are green.
Here are five recipes that showcase the many sides of the beet:
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus 1 hour standing time
Note: From Christian Shaffer. Red and golden beets may be used instead of the Chioggia beets.
6 large Chioggia beets, golden and red
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon toasted ground coriander seeds
1 shallot, minced
1 (8-ounce) carton creme fraiche
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chervil, whole leaves or rough chopped
1. Boil the beets in enough water to cover, with 2 tablespoons salt, until tender, about an hour.
2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, coriander and shallot and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine the creme fraiche, horseradish, one-half teaspoon salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Drain the beets and, while still warm, peel them. Slice them into wedges, about 8 to 10 per beet, and cool.
4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the beets and let stand, covered, at room temperature for an hour. Spoon the horseradish cream onto a platter, covering the bottom. Using a slotted spoon, mound the beets over the cream. Garnish the beets with the chervil and serve.
Each serving: 152 calories; 2 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 13 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 12 mg. cholesterol; 285 mg. sodium.
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Note: Adapted from "The Book of New Israeli Food" by Janna Gur. Pomegranate concentrate or molasses is available at select Jons markets, cooking supply stores and Middle Eastern markets.
3 to 4 medium beets
2 tablespoons pomegranate concentrate or molasses
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 to 3 small, dried red chile peppers, crushed
Coarse sea salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup lightly flavored olive oil
1. Cook the beets in a covered medium saucepan of boiling water until tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool, peel and cut into very small dice. Place in a medium bowl.
2. Add the pomegranate concentrate, lemon juice, peppers, one-eighth teaspoon sea salt, or to taste, and combine. Set aside for about 15 minutes.
3. Toss the beets with the cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Each serving: 118 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 24 mg. sodium.
Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes, plus chilling time
Note: Adapted from Eric Greenspan. Make the creme fraiche and the carrot puree up to two days ahead.
Horseradish-caraway creme fraiche
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish
1. Place the caraway seeds in a small saute pan and cook over medium heat, shaking occasionally, until they become aromatic and begin to pop, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the creme fraiche with the toasted seeds and the horseradish. Season with one-half teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. Serve cool.
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
2 cups fresh carrot juice
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the diced carrot and cook for 2 minutes, until the color is vibrant. Add the carrot juice and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to maintain a good simmer. Cook until the liquid has been reduced by a little more than half, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove the mixture from the heat, cool for several minutes, and puree in a blender or with an immersion blender. Season with three-fourths teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week. Serve at room temperature.
Latkes and assembly
1 large red beet
3 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 medium red onions
2 cups canola oil, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 recipe horseradish-caraway creme fraiche
1 recipe carrot puree
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Trim the beet, wash it and wrap it in foil. Roast it in the oven for 1 hour, until a knife easily pierces through the flesh. Cool before handling; remove the skin.
2. Peel the potatoes, onions and carrot. Using a box grater, grate the potatoes, carrot and beet separately, squeezing the moisture out of each vegetable using a colander or paper towels, then combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Grate the onion, squeezing the moisture from half and adding it to a large bowl with the other vegetables. Reserve the remaining grated onion.
3. Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and the reserved grated onion. Saute the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl of grated vegetables, tossing to combine.
4. Stir in the eggs and flour, and season with one-half teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper.
5. Heat the remaining oil in a medium skillet until it shimmers. Drop the latke batter (beginning with a single "tester latke"), a quarter cup at a time, flattening slightly with a heatproof spatula to form a pancake. Fry the latkes, 1 or 2 at a time, for about 2 minutes until they're a golden color on one side, then flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Remove the cooked latkes to drain on a paper towel-lined tray, sprinkling each with a good pinch of kosher salt, and continue with the remaining batter; you should have about 14 to 16 latkes.
6. Serve immediately with the horseradish-caraway creme fraiche and the carrot puree.
Each serving of 4 latkes with two tablespoons each of creme fraiche and carrot puree: 585 calories; 11 grams protein; 60 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 35 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 118 mg. cholesterol; 766 mg. sodium.
Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time for the beets
Note: Adapted from Alain Passard's "The Art of Cooking With Vegetables"
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 pound blackberries
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Leaves from 4 sprigs purple basil (or green), coarsely cut
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Fleur de sel or salt of your choice
Flowers from a sprig of lavender
1. Cook the beets in lightly salted simmering water in a covered pan until tender, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on their size. Leave them to cool in their cooking water. When they are cool enough to handle, but still warm, slip them from their skins, slice or quarter if desired, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan over low heat. Add the blackberries and, after a few minutes, crush them with a fork. Continue to cook them until their juices run freely, about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and basil leaves, then leave the mixture to stew over the lowest possible heat without stirring until it smells slightly smoky, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. At the same time, bring the milk just to the boiling point, then whisk to froth and emulsify it, preferably using an immersion blender.
4. Turn the blackberries onto a warm serving dish and arrange the beets on top. Spoon some of the milk over the beets and drizzle the remainder over the blackberries. Add salt if desired and sprinkle with the lavender flowers.
Each of 4 servings: 210 calories; 6 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 12 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 32 mg cholesterol; 15 grams sugar; 334 mg sodium.
Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time for the quinoa
Note: Umeboshi (plum) vinegar can be found at Whole Foods markets and Asian markets.
2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons dill pickle juice
1 tablespoon best-quality olive oil
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, pickle juice and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes one-quarter cup dressing.
Scarlet quinoa and salad assembly
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup finely diced red beets
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup diced Japanese or Persian cucumber
2 teaspoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1. Wash the quinoa under cold running water in a fine strainer. Drain well.
2. In a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the beets, vegetable broth, olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid.
3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate the grains, uncovered, until cool.
4. Fluff the cooled grains and place them in a large bowl. Gently stir in the cucumber, chives, dill and lemon zest. Stir in half of the dressing, then taste the salad and add additional dressing or salt as desired.
Each serving: 146 calories; 4 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 220 mg. sodium.
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