Roast Beets & Beet Greens
Beets have a bad reputation. Lots of people associate them with their poor, canned brothers or painful childhood dinners involving Polish grandmothers and ultimatums. My dad? Won’t touch them. My mom, who never says no to a vegetable, wouldn’t go out of her way to make them feel welcome. But I loooooove them, and not just because of the disconcerting side effects they can have on your pee!
Seeing as beets are not friends with my parents, the first time I had a beet was on my mom’s kibbutz in Israel, where the dining room, not famous for it’s quality, serves up large quantities of grated beet salad. My uncle, Zion, a Yemenite Jew and master of Middle Eastern- and Ashkenazi-inspired cooking, makes a fabulous, beefy borscht for me every time I visit. Needless to say, when I visit the kibbutz, my pee is pink for weeks at a time.
Anyways! I love beets not just because they are delicious, but because they are easy to prepare and versatile to serve. I’ll get into my favorite beet dishes later, but for now, I’ll show you beet skeptics the best and easiest way to cook them and their greens.
ROAST BEETS & BEET GREENS
1 bunch beets, greens attached
n.b. Beets stain! So use a cutting board and resist the urge to wipe your hands on your pants.
Ok! Ready? Preheat your oven to medium-hot, around 350F/180C. Line a baking tray with tin foil.
Cut the greens off the beets, and wash the beets really well (don’t worry about peeling them). If they are larger than your first, or are different sizes, cut them in half or quarters, so that the pieces are relatively similar in size.
Place the washed beets on the foil-lined tray, and seal with the tin foil.
Pop them in the oven (don’t worry if it’s not completely preheated yet) and set the timer for about 45 minutes.
While your beets are in the oven, make the beet greens.
Wash the greens really well (they’re usually gritty, so I fill the sink with a few inches of water and soak them for a minute). Take a big pot and plunk the washed greens in. If they’re too big, cut them a bit. Add about 1/2 cup of water and turn the heat on high, partially covering the pot. Cook the greens down like this, adding more water if it evaporates and a little olive oil if it begins to stick, until the stalks are tender, about 15 minutes.
Now, to see if your beets are fully roasted, remove the tray from the oven, unwrap the beets slightly and poke the biggest one with a knife. If the knife slides in easily, they’re done. If not, keep cooking for a little while longer. When they’re done, let them cool and then use your hands to slip the skin off (if you want). Done!
Roast Beet ideas:
- Slice roasted beets and layer with goat cheese or feta to form a stack. Dress with some lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and top with fresh mint. You can serve this stack on a bed of beet greens or on a lightly dressed bed of baby spinach leaves.
- Chop roasted beets and toss them into a frisee salad with fried bacon, chopped hard boiled eggs, and dress with the hot bacon grease mixed with lemon juice.
- A quick appetizer: Top thick pieces of toasted country bread with the cooked beet greens, top with some grated parmigiano or feta and place under the broiler for a minute. Top with olive oil serve hot.
- Be Australian: Top your cheeseburger with roast beet slices!
- Toss chopped roast beets with bleu cheese and pecans.
- Mix pureed roast beets into your next hummus.
- For breakfast, top beet greens with a fried egg with an english muffin on the side.