Learn how to cook beets with four easy methods like steam, boil, and two ways to roast them. Healthy dishes can be created using this incredible ingredient and I’m going to cover the basic techniques to maximize flavor.
I wasn’t always a fan of beets until I learned how to cook them properly. My first experience with this root vegetable was from a can, an incredibly underwhelming experience. When I finally had my first taste of fresh and properly prepared beets, I realized that this root vegetable is delicious!
This earthy, and yet sweet ingredient is unique in that almost the entire beet, from the roots, stems, and leaves are edible. The root bulb is most often consumed, while the red beet and golden beets are easiest to find at the market.
The nutritional benefits are extraordinary, especially from B vitamins, minerals and fiber found in the bulb. They are also loaded with nitrates which help to lower blood pressure and boost endurance performance for athletes. Don’t forget to eat the beet greens! The dark leafy greens are high in calcium, vitamins, and iron.
How to Cook Beets
Now that you know that beets are not only tasty but pack a healthy punch too, let’s learn how to cook them with this step-by-step guide.
Boiling tenderizes the beets by submerging the vegetable in hot water and cook until tender. You may notice that for red beets the color leaks into the cooking liquid. Some methods suggest to keep at least 2 inches of the stem intact, and adding vinegar to the water to prevent this from occurring.
I tried doing both, and although I did not see it entirely preventing color seepage, it was minimized. Cooking the beets with the peel on is the most effective way to reduce the loss of pigment. This method takes about 30 minutes, depending on the size.
Steaming involves heating the water in a closed vessel until it becomes superheated vapor. The high temperature 100 °C (212 °F) and pressure in the pot allow the beets to cook with ease using minimal water. I like this method because the nutrients stay in the vegetable, and not get lost in the water.
Do not allow the water to touch the steamer basket because you want the steam to be able to circulate under and around the beets as it cooks. The beets should be cooked until tender, and the skin easily releases from the peel, about 30 minutes depending on the size.
3) Whole Roasting
The whole roast method involves coating the beets skin with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then wrapping them in foil pouches. This technique allows you to infuse more flavors on the surface and creates more vibrant flavor characteristics.
This method takes about 40 to 60 minutes at a high temperature 204°C (400°F) and requires more peeking and checking of the beets to test for doneness.
4) Cut and Roast
If you’re looking for a quicker roasting method that adds the most flavor, peeling and cutting the beets into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wedges is the way to go. The high temperatures in the oven at 204°C (400°F) encourages Maillard browning, creating deeper flavors for each slice.
If you’re cooking red and yellow beets, as shown above, I like to section off the vegetables with aluminum foil as a divider on the baking sheet. Because the beets are peeled, the red beets will lose some of its juice as it cooks; the foil partition will prevent the other vegetables from staining. This method takes about 25 to 30 minutes.
Cook Tip: Peeling Beets
The reason the skin is left on the whole beets is that it makes it easier for peeling. Once the beets are cooked by steam, boil, or roast, and cool enough to handle, the peel can be removed using a paper towel to wipe the skin off.
By cradling the beet in a paper towel, the skin can be gently rubbed off, reducing the stains on hands and towels. If you do get the inevitable stain on a cutting board, scrub salt on the surface before washing to help lift the pigment.
Don’t Waste Beet Greens!
The nutritious beet greens are often discarded when they should be saved and eaten. They have a slight bitterness, similar to kale or collard greens. The hearty greens are perfect for sauteeing with a little bit of oil and seasonings, making for a healthy side dish!
Beet Recipes You Might Like
Now that you know easy ways to prepare and cook beets, it’s time to add them to a meal! Don’t forget that beets eaten raw are crisp and sweet, and can also be pressed for its juice. No matter how you like them, they can be enjoyed in so many versatile ways!
- Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
- Farro Salad with Root Vegetables
- Fried Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Dressing
- Roasted Beet Hummus
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