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Sep 21, 2008 08:59 AM

Beet recipes for a hater?

We got a couple beets in our CSA basket this week. I have never cooked beets, and have maybe eaten them once. My husband has declared that he does not like beets. Can anyone recommend a good recipe for beets to prepare for someone who does not like them?

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  1. Harvard Beets

    2 cups raw beets, diced
    water, 3/4-inch deep in pan
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup beet juice, from beets (or water)
    2 tablespoons vinegar
    2 tablespoons butter
    Pare and dice raw beets.
    Cook in covered pan until tender.
    Mix cornstarch and sugar.
    Add liquid slowly, stirring into a smooth paste.
    Cook over low heat until slightly thickened.
    Add vinegar and butter.
    Stir to blend and pour over beets.

    1 Reply
    1. re: grampart

      I've heard people speak lovingly about that recipe, and please don't take this the wrong way, but BLECH. Just the smell of cooking beets puts me off. I've always thought the only way someone could get me to eat them would be raw. I'd recommend some kind of raw salad that sets off the sweetness with something punchy or acidic.

      They are gorgeous, though! I want to like them!

    2. People who hate beets often associate them with canned pickled beets, so you might try other preparations.

      My favourite is the Italian way. Trim off the tops must 1/4 inch or so above the root. Rinse. Wrap all the beets together in a double-thickness of aluminum foil, crimping the edges together to seal tightly. Roast in a 400ºF oven until tender, 1-2 hours. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets (the skin will pull away) and slice into thin rounds or half rounds. Just before serving, dress with good-quality red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature. I especially like it after lamb dishes.

      Beets roasted as above can also be used in fancier salads. Try combining them with orange sections and watercress or lamb's lettuce -- or with walnuts and goat cheese -- in a sherry vinegar dressing.

      BTW, if the beet tops are in good shape, you can also use them for a salad. Separate the leaves from the stems. Drop the stems in boiling salted water, boil 5-7 minutes, then drop in the leaves. Cook until tender, 2-4 minutes. Drain well. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Or add to the beet salad described above.

      Borscht is another possibility.

      One of the Silver Palate books has a purée recipe that beet haters have been known to enjoy. As I recall, it calls for tart apples, onions and raspberry vinegar and comes out a shocking magenta pink. Good alongside sausages, pork and goose. Can probably track down the recipe if you're interested.

      2 Replies
      1. re: carswell

        I put them in a 375 oven for about 2 1/2 hours. Then peel, cut up into pieces and add them to a bowl with sliced onions, olive oil, vinegar and S&P. Fresh herbs too if I have them. Delicious!

        The gold ones are great too!

        1. re: carswell

          I roast and when cooled use in interesting salads. They pair well with a lot of greens, citrus and cheeses.

        2. Seconds: Here's a link to a recent discussion about roasted beet salads that you might find helpful.

          I'm not a fan of Harvard beets nor pickled. Hot, I like them roasted with butter and S&P. Cold, I toss a few slices into any salad I'm having for lunch.

          The greens can be sauteed (in bacon fat if you use it).

          1. I used to be firmly entrenched in the "I hate beets" camp until I saw a gentleman grilling them on a PBS cooking program 15 years ago. I can't remember his name (not Raichlen) but has a serious rep in the food industry and said that grilled beets were one of his favorite items off the grill - loaded with sugar with a nice caramelized surface. I picked up a few very nice beets at the produce market, sliced them to varying thicknesses (they unintentionally turned out this way out of my lowly skills), grilled them to varying levels of doneness, and I must say that I packed up my tent and left the "I hate beets" camp for good.

            I would suggest peeling (with a potato peeler) then slicing the beets on the thinner side - the thinner the better in this case - the somewhat pronounced taste of beets that turn off many will be muted this way. After slicing, brush with a simple marinade of olive oil, balsamic vinegar (the cheap stuff), salt, pepper, and some minced garlic, even a light dose of dried herbs (we like herbs de Provence). Set the slices on a medium hot grill and let them sit until each side is caramelized. The thinner ones (1/8") will obviously cook faster, but if you want, let them go beyond what you think will be done. They will somewhat dry out and be closer to a chip, where the sweetness shines and just a hint of the beet taste will show. I found these to be appetizing even to our kids who were also beetaphobes. They now eat grilled beets as well, thick or thin - of course, preferring the thin ones. A dab of creme fraiche, labne, plain yogurt, or sour cream is a nice touch as well...

            2 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              Very nice! I'll have to grill me some beet slices.

              1. re: scuzzo

                If you're currently in the hater camp, slice 'em thin, and grill 'um good till they're crisp and caramelized on the outside...

                I started hating beets back in junior high school when the cafeteria had the nerve to serve up some canned ones in a salad. To compound things, my horticulture teacher had us plant a couple of rows of them as one of our projects. When those beets reached maturity, the fruits of my labor was four grocery bags full of de-stemmed beets that I had to lug home (two back-breaking round trips) by foot. My mom was gleaming with pride that I did so well and brought home this bounty (to her). She suggested distributing the surplus to neighbors to which I eagerly agreed. After spreading three bags of the wealth, I started for the fourth bag - my mom grabs my hand and said this bag was for our family - CRAP! I sulked through I don't know how many meals of beet-this or that for what seemed to be an eternity. This torture of a thousand beets built up a great aversion to beets for decades to follow. And that's why I figure that if this method will bring me to appreciate the strong asset of beets - its sweetness - then it will get just about anyone the like them. Hope it works for you - it did for me...

            2. I am a beet hater -- it's just about the only food I won't eat. Well, that and soy flour, which ruins anything it touches. I once was seated next to Lynne Rosetto Kasper at a food writer dinner, and perhaps I'd had just slightly too much wine, but I told her how I was a beet hater, but I tried her recipe for balsamic roasted beets (in Great Food Without Fuss, about 1995, a compilation of food writers' recipes). Took about 1 1/2 hours to make the beets, and when they were ready to eat ... they tasted just like beets and I threw them out. Needless to say, we aren't pen pals. And I stopped drinking wine at professional gatherings.