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Help make my family love beets!

My kids are wonderfully diverse eaters at 6 and 4 years old. However, I find myself only cooking the same produce over and over because my husband only likes: brocolli, corn, winter squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, peas, icbeurg and romaine lettuce, I include a vegetable side dish with every meal but when he's home, I tend not to branch out. I cook veggies as basic as possible, meaning I don't believe in adding "cream" or "cheese" to entice the kids to eat. I've been luring him to try new things for the sake of the kids and one thing I think he would love that I have NEVER brought into the house is beets. He was traumatized as a child by repeated meals with canned beets that he HAD to finish before bed. I was explaing to him that beets, when prepared correctly, taste nothing like those from a can. I love them but have forgotten about them because of his strong resentment. I am confident I can win him back to team beet, but I have ONE shot....I need help from Chowhounders!! Hit me with your best beet recipe...it can contain NO onions though, THANK YOU!

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  1. That's quite a challenge, kmlmgm. One tip that I'd give you is to try roasting your vegetables. My family is older than yours, although we have grandchildren aged 7, 4 and 1. A few years ago, we discovered that vegetables other than potatoes, onions and carrots (our moms had roasted these with roast beef on Sundays) could be roasted with amazingly tasty results. Now, in a separate roasting or sheet pan, we regularly roast any combination of potatoes, onions, carrots, sweet potato, brussels sprouts, celery, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, turnip or rutabaga, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, etc.
    Often we'll roast one vegetable solo, such as asparagus or cauliflower. My daughter found a great recipe for roasting cauliflower dusted with coriander, cumin, salt and pepper, which is a wonderful appetizer/snack.
    Mostly, we toss the veggies in olive oil and then season them after arranging them on a sheet pan. They can be seasoned simply with salt and pepper or start experimenting with your favourite herbs and spices. Cutting up a couple of garlic cloves into small pieces is a tasty enhancement, too, especially when you bite into one of these little nuggets.
    Our most common roasting veggie is potatoes, which we cut in wedges (along with a couple of sliced onions) and dust with salt, pepper and paprika. Turn them over once or twice and cook until they look good.
    If you try beets in this style, it's probably better to roast them in a separate pan, unless you want everything to take on a purple tone...we've done that and it's kind of weird, but doesn't really affect the taste. I think it's best to peel the beets first, so that when they are finished roasting, you don't have to remove the nicely caramelized outer part. I usually keep small beets whole, but you would want to cut larger ones before cooking.
    Anyway, good luck with your project. I'm sure there are lots of great recipes out there, but this is a really simple way to treat lots of veggies.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Yongeman

      Roasting beets is a marvelous way to cook them! Peel them while raw, cut them up into cubes (I like them small, about 1/2"), toss them with olive oil, salt & pepper, then roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. They caramelize beautifully. A touch of acidity provides a great balance to the sweetness -- a nice vinaigrette, a chopped up orange, some lemon juice, etc.

      I particularly like roasted beets with a garlic-anise seed vinaigrette that I got from one of Deborah Madison's books, though that might be too much for the kids. Grind 1/2 tsp of anise seeds in a mortar, add a garlic clove and some salt. Grind together, then add sherry vinegar, and whisk in olive oil. Strong flavors, but divine.

      1. re: Yongeman

        Yep. Roast them. I've converted many "beet-haters" with a roasted beet.

      2. To convert a beet hater I'd use this salad recipe. Per boil the beet whole, unpeeled. Chill, peel and cube into bite size pieces. Add some freshly squeezed orange juice and some orange zest. Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve. Before serving add thinly sliced shallots and pinch of white pepper powder.

        1 Reply
        1. re: raisa

          Very similar - I cut raw beets into bite-size pieces (really, a wide range of sizes) and drop the pieces into a boiling mixture of half white vinegar and half water, plus a good shot of sugar and a pinch of salt. Take off the heat immediately, and serve chilled. These keep for weeks, they are ready almost immediately, they "crunch" real good, and they are seriously yummy pickles.

        2. Oven roasted beets is to die for!

          1. Oven roasted; thickly sliced; dressed with yoghurt and chives.

            Or, grated raw beetroot, dressed with balsamic (or an oil/orange mix)

            1. Simmer diced beetroot in chicken stock for 30 minutes and then use the dice and liquid to make risotto. Beautiful look and taste.

              Another method:


              Onion free risotto and stock may however leave a flavour gap, so provide plenty of grated Parm.

              1. Let him have a vegetable that he detests -- we can't all love everything -- nor can we even all love the same things our family loves!

                I detest beets -- I, too, spent a lot of nights at the table staring down a helping of canned beets, and no matter how I have tried them (and I have gamely tried them a dozen times - in a dozen different types of dishes) and I Just.Don't.Like.Them. (One of my best friends is Russian -- and she *knows* how to make beets properly...and I really, really wish I could like the dumb things, because she's a wonderful cook...but I just can't get past those damned purple things sitting on my plate)

                Fortunately, I've married a man who thinks no more highly of beets than I do --- but he absolutely refuses to even soldier through them if they show up on the plate. (I can at least choke them down to look polite, and even then it's only if I can't move them around my plate or hide them under something else.)

                It's okay -- there's LOTS of other veggies out there -- and LOTS of ways to prepare them -- Yongeman's ideas are fantastic -- we roast and grill a LOT of different kinds of veggies. Then there's things like ratatouille, which I'm perfectly happy to devour hot or cold, all by itself, or over a starch of any kind.

                But if it's as deeply ingrained as mine is -- just let it be, and make beets for yourself. Maybe the kids will try them -- but let the deep-seated issues be. You'll all be glad you did.

                13 Replies
                1. re: sunshine842

                  damn those canned beets. ruined the root for a lot of us. I'm OK with them fresh now (but then I put apples, jalapeno and sour cream in my roasted "borscht") even so it's still not my favorite by a loooong shot

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    beets were never forced upon me as a child, so i tried them with an open mind as an adult. i like 'em just fine, but because of the hand-staining and long cooking times i never make them at home. b/f also hates them, so i don't even attempt to serve them.

                    a roasted beet salad with goat cheese is to die for, but really, not everybody has to like everything.

                    am still puzzled why cream or cheese is not allowed on veggies at your house? fat is flavor and may convert some peeps you think of as picky eaters.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      ahh but you can re-purpose the juice as a fabric dye or even a wood stain.

                      I didn't quite 'get' the no cream or cheese rule either, but wasn't going to ask, to each their own...

                      1. re: hill food

                        I think she's saying that she doesn't want to drown veggies in a cheese sauce or cream sauce in an attempt to get kids to eat them, a common ploy in some regions and families.

                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                          It did come across a bit differently though. Molly Steven's cream braised brussels sprouts are a revelation! My family prefers them, however they also love roasted bs, too.

                          I find if you learn to like vegetables in any form, it makes you much more likely to like them prepared simply.

                          1. re: Becca Porter

                            Her statement "I don't believe in adding "cream" or "cheese" to entice the kids to eat" sounded pretty straight forward to me, but maybe that's because I'm from Minnesota where creamed vegetables or cheese sauce drowned broccoli is awfully common, so I put my interpretation on it. I adore feta or goat cheese on roasted beets, but to me that's worlds apart from a nasty fake 'cheese' sauce.

                            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                              I think y'all are right. but who knows maybe there's a lactose intolerance or just distaste. I too was bribed with glops of velveeta on the cauliflower (I still like a cheese sauce, but I'll save the V for the grilled cheese and RoTel)

                              in any case I can't really see anything more than a crumbly cheese accent on beets

                              1. re: hill food

                                No lactose intolerance at all. I have just always kept veggies simple with my kids, since I pureed their dinners from our plates when they were infants. Some body gave me a copy of "Deceptively Delicious" and it just didn't sit right in my mind to "cover" the taste of a veggie. I DO love the idea of adding some feta, though, to the beets in a salad. Thank you!

                                1. re: kmlmgm

                                  Many vegetables do better with a little something extra. I was in my 20s before I considered broccoli, and only because it was served in a cheese sauce. From there I went on to love broccoli many ways, but that was my mild entry. There is a long way between deceptive and wonderfully cooked--and it may well be a way to soften the blow of some strong vegetables. Isn't a cream sauce a wonderful thing once in awhile?

                                  1. re: escondido123

                                    oh I do agree e123 but I can also appreciate kml's desire to strive for the not 'buried' or disguised.

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      It's worked well for me, but it's not for everyone, I agree. My kids LOVE broccolli so much, that's the first thing they eat off their plates. And it's usually just steamed or roasted, lite salt. I wanted them to always be able to taste the true flavor of the vegetable. They will have plenty of oppotrunities in life to try them any which way they want to, but I feel that in the introductory stage, simple is best.

                                      1. re: kmlmgm

                                        Well, my kids are the same way. Salad, broccoli, brussels sprouts... are always the first to go. We mostly roast or braise. I see no benefit to steaming, I feel like you are just losing vitamins to the water. It is sad that so many kids do not grow up with a proper delicious introduction to vegetables.

                    2. re: sunshine842

                      to be fair to my parental units -- when I was about 8 or 9, they decided that each of us would be allowed one thing that we were given a free pass on -- so that was the end of the beet wars, as I was allowed to avoid them or to pick them out of whatever dish they were in.

                      It's still the only vegetable that I refuse to eat -- but also didn't want to let the assumption roll that my folks were some of those "mild abuse via food" nightmares that we all read about far too often.

                    3. This is a delicate issue. I can identify with your husband because I too was forced to eat canned beets as a kid. The only problem now is that most methods of preparation, to me, still taste like the canned version.

                      I am actually working on branching out though and so far I either like roasted beets(I like them with herbed yogurt sauce - sometimes I roast them and then dip kind of like beet french fries)

                      I also like beets in a pureed root vegetable soup. I often make a carrot soup that is great, so one time I decided to add beets and found that the flavor wasn't overpowering. I also put in tons of garlic.

                      Red beets are a polarizing food in my experience, sort of like olives where it seems like people love them or hate them. I don't mind the golden ones but I have to do a degree of flavor masking in order to eat the red ones. Luckily the flavor masking can be in the form of roasted garlic or something else that is not just covering them with cheese.

                      So, after all those words, I would roast chunks of root veggies along with beets with olive oil/salt/pepper. If nothing else, they might find that they love other root veggies even if they don't love the beets.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Fromageball

                        heh - is there ANY savory dish that tons of garlic can't enhance? or even save?

                      2. your query reminded me that i've seen threads in the past about help with people who are anti-beets, so i dug up a few of them. there are lots of great recipes lurking within, including many that have successfully converted beet haters - hopefully you'll find something that will work for your family too!


                        1. roast covered at 350 for about an hour or until cooked through depending on the size. Let them cool enough to handle and the peel should come off easily. You can easily do this a day or two head of time.

                          They are great in salads with spinach, goat cheese, apples and balsamic. Or sauteed in brown butter with chard and roasted hazenuts.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: AAQjr

                            Beets that are roasted whole in their skins remind me too much of canned beets. That's why I'm a fan of peeling them and cutting them up before roasting. Not to mention that they cook much faster this way and get all this lovely caramelization on the edges. Yum!

                            I also think that peeling them before roasting minimizes that 'dirt' flavor that many people dislike about beets.

                            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                              NO WAY! I guess to each there own. but to me canned taste steamed or boiled. yuck.

                              Even better is roasting beets over night at 200 degrees or 175. The skins will get all black and the meat of the beets will be sweet as heck.

                              1. re: AAQjr

                                Last night, I roasted then in their skin, in foil. I then cubed them up and offered a small amount to everyone. It was unanimous, everyone liked them and my daughter asked for them again tonight! Success!

                                  1. re: kmlmgm

                                    Yay! simple and healthy :) it doesn't get better than that

                            2. I have always HATED beets, they make me gag. Well, if I get fresh yellow beets from the Farmer's Market and peel them and cut them into medium slices and then fry them until brown in olive oil and serve hot with a good sprinkling of salt they are pretty good. Still not at the top of my list, but the flavor is a lot less beety and that means good to me.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: escondido123

                                I'll second the idea of starting with gold beets for any of the preps They seem milder in flavor.

                                1. re: firecooked

                                  I was definitely going to start with golden beets but my grocery store doesn't stock them.

                                  1. re: kmlmgm

                                    you're sort of in-between seasons right now for beets. late spring/early summer may turn up some golden beets for you, but most are a cool weather crop, for autumn and winter.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Where I live in So. California, golden and red beets just started showing up at the Farmers' Market. They're nice and fat with lovely greens still attached.

                              2. I'm not sure this will convert your family, but beets (and I never liked the canned ones when I was a kid either) are lovely roasted and then marinated in a citrusy (esp. orange) vinaigrette. I like to add orange slices (or supremes) and red onion slivers, but you can obviously leave out the onion. I also like to sprinkle a generous amount of coarse salt, black pepper, and chopped parsley or chives over them. And I love beets w/toasted pistachios.
                                They're also great w/slices of apple or pear, in a composed salad, with walnuts or pecans.
                                Beets tossed w/apple and a bit of horseradish cream--also delicious if you can get past the cream.
                                My own husband got converted to beets through the classic combo of goat cheese, beets, and nuts--but that would be breaking the no-cheese rule.
                                And, yes, you might try golden beets. We have a good friend who will not touch red beets but will eat roasted golden ones.

                                1. Here's the thing: some people just have a taste intolerance for beets. My adult daughter seems to have inherited it from her dad. She loves the idea of a beet salad with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts, but the flavor just clashes with her taste buds.

                                  While we are adventurous eaters in our family who enjoy a wide range of foods and particularly vegetables, foods high in oxalic acid just don't appeal to me.

                                  Go figure...my friend can't tolerate the taste of cilantro. Each to her taste?

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Discerning1

                                    Thank you -- I just don't understand the whole "make someone like it"...if someone doesn't like something, no amount of cajoling or piling on ingredients and methods isn't going to change the fact that that person just doesn't like that food.

                                    And that's okay - wouldn't it be a boring world if we all liked exactly the same things?

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      I'm not trying to "make" anyone like anything. I just thought it was worth trying once more, prepared in a new way.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        In theory, yes,and I see no point in trying to force people to eat things they hate--but lots of times what people don't like is how they've had certain foods prepared. When I met my husband, the list of things he didn't "like" was long--and frankly off-putting to someone who loves cooking. But he now not only likes but loves eggplant, brussels sprouts, the aforementioned beets, all manner of seafood, spinach, brown rice, pate, blue cheese, red beans, white beans, lima beans, black beans, hummus--I could go on. He's still not crazy about green peas or cabbage, but can tolerate them. But no matter how wonderfully (!) I prepare them, he will not eat beef or calf liver, rabbit, or black-eyed peas. No way. No how.

                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                          interesting list, worthy of a thread (though there probably already is one) most beans but NOT black-eyed peas, that one stumps me

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            Yes, me too, but I'm just grateful he's made so much progress. I'm not sure I could have married a man who turned up his nose at so many foods!

                                          2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                            I agree. My husband had a very limited palate when we started dating and now I would say if anything that he is a more adventurous eater than I am. I remember when he told me he didn't like pineapple, Lebanese food, or things with a fishy flavor. Now he loves all those things and many, many more. I also had a good friend who didn't like green salads. We usually serve some kind of green salad with meals and she was welcome to take or leave that part of the meal. At one point she said to me, "Damn you! It took about 5 years, but I actually crave salad now!"

                                      2. I was scared to try beets until a couple of years ago. I never had to eat canned beets as a child but I heard the horror stories. I developed a love for swiss chard which led me to finally try beets. It turns out I love them! I ate them roasted for a while, but now I love them every way.

                                        This is a very odd collection of ingredients in this recipe from my CSA (http://www.47daisies.com/recipes.html), but I absolutely adore it!

                                        Beets with Feta:
                                        (Submitted by Melanie Koskie
                                        )Wash and Cut off greens of 4-5 beets.
                                        Lightly coat with olive oil and wrap individually in aluminum foil - bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
                                        In the meantime . . . Saute 1/4 cup of shallots (I just used a vidalia onion) in 2T of olive oil and 1t cumin. When soft, remove from heat and add 1T balsamic vinegar and 1T red wine vinegar (I just used red wine). Mix in a handful of chopped cilantro (or parsley) and 1/4 feta cheese. Slice or cube beets and add to feta mixture.

                                        1. my family happens to love Red Velvet Cake, made with mashed cooked beets. (no food coloring needed!)

                                          1. I like beets raw, sliced about 1/8" thick into half-moons. We like to start off a meal with assorted sliced veg: carrot coins, snowpeas, snap peas, cherry toms, beets, etc. (every day is a 1960s cocktail party, what can I say). No dip needed, sometimes hummus if desired.

                                            The crunch and sweetness of the beets raw might appeal to the kids, when offered in the company of other veggies.

                                            (Edited to add:) You could just add a little sliced raw beet with some crudites and present without comment. If anyone asked, I'd pull the "What! Now how did that get on there! Don't worry , mommy will eat those." ;)

                                            And if no one wants them raw, then just roast them a couple of nights later.

                                            1. I know this is about beets, but the beet greens are delicious sauteed with a little garlic. Any of you who don't eat the greens, send them to me!

                                              Now to the beets, love them roasted but I usually cut them first into large chunks and roast with olive oil, salt and pepper. Another great way to prepare them is to slice into 1/4" slices, spread in a single layer in a skillet with enough chicken stock to cover the bottom of the pan, a little butter, salt and pepper. As the stock cooks down, the butter glazes the slices.

                                              A Mideastern restaurant here serves pickled beets and they are freakin' good! I have tried to make them with recipes I've found on the web but they're not as good. I came closest with a much simpler, quick pickling. I just have to work out the vinegar/water ratio and the spices.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                Beet greens, yum! Lightly steamed in the water that clings to them, then given just a touch of butter to finish. Mmm!

                                                Growing up, I didn't much like the beets themselves, but I adored beet greens. My whole family did. I always suspected my mom liked the beet greens better than the beets too. The only thing she did with the beets was pickle them (which I detested as well, but that's okay, I didn't have to eat them).

                                              2. Just to add a note of sympathy for haters of a particular food. Did you know that a food that tastes great to you might taste very, very different to someone else. One proven example is cilantro--which seems to have lovers and haters--but that's because it actually tastes different depending upon your genetics. Who knows how many other foods may be predetermined for us? I know that no matter how receptive I am to beets, even when I cook the golden ones to a crunchy golden brown, they still taste like dirt to me and while I am swallowing them and loving some of the flavor, there is a small gag reflex going on in my throat that I cannot stop.

                                                4 Replies
                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                    Yep - I've tried them so many times, so many different ways, that I have finally just accepted that I just don't like 'em.

                                                    and I *have* eaten them (like when a friend cooking beets for the first time served me a big honking bowl....!!!) -- but it's been a constant mental argument with myself that I really need to eat these because the situation calls for it, while the other half jumps up and down, pitching a tantrum and screaming I HATE BEETS!.

                                                    Fortunately the sane side almost always wins....

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      It drives me crazy when people say "Oh,but you'll like them the way that I make them." Some vegetables, no matter how they are prepared, take bad to some people. And I figure once we are adults don't we get to make the decision?

                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                        good heavens, yes.

                                                        If someone is amenable to trying something new, I'll show them how to make it in such a manner that they might like it (fish and liver spring to mind) -- but I try to be sensitive to others' likes, dislikes, and allergies/sensitivities.

                                                  2. Don't know if this will win him back to the beet side, but I just made a beet salad that made me pretty happy. Boiled a couple of beets, let them cool, peeled and shredded them (with a mandoline but a cheese grater would work) added mayonnaise, a little minced garlic, black pepper and a little kosher salt.

                                                    1. Beets are one of my favorite foods, but one of my good friends, a fellow veggie lover, has never been a fan. She recently tried a dish that had thinly sliced raw beets, and genuinely enjoyed it! Since then, a couple of raw beet dishes (thinly sliced or grated) have won praise. So I'd suggest trying raw beets first.

                                                      Bonus: raw beets won't remind your husband of the look or texture of canned beets!

                                                      1. I know I'm a little late here, but this got my formerly beet-averse husband to love beets:

                                                        Pull the greens off a bunch of beets, wash them, and set them aside.

                                                        Scrub the beets, but don't bother peeling them. Just pull off the straggly rooty ends and the stems. Grate them (a food processor makes this a lot easier).

                                                        Heat a little bit of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook a couple cloves of sliced garlic until they just start to take on color, then add the grated beets. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes, until the beets start to soften.

                                                        Slice up the beet greens (but not the stems). Finely chop a small handful of dried apricots or other dried fruit. When the beets have started to soften a little bit, add the greens and apricots, and a little water if the pan is looking dry. Cook for a few more minutes, tossing occasionally, until the greens wilt. Add a splash of sherry vinegar (balsamic would be good, too), mix everything up, and taste for seasoning. It might need more salt, more vinegar, or a tiny drizzle of honey. If you feel like it (and I always do), top with some chopped almonds, preferably toasted lightly in a dry pan or in the oven for a few minutes.

                                                        This might be my number one food discovery of 2011. I hope you give it a try!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                          1. re: allyeats

                                                            Thank you! I love that this recipe incorporates the greens as well!

                                                          2. Checkout the color on this dish:

                                                            Beetroot (Beet) Hummus

                                                            Same recipe with U.S. measurements

                                                            1. After many futile years of trying, my advice is to give up on beets. I love them, but my family members insist that they taste like dirt. They refuse to even be in the house if I'm roasting some. I'm beginning to think that there is something like the "cilantro gene" at work here.

                                                              1. Beet chips. Paper thin slices, roasted, salted.

                                                                1. If you roast them properly they don't even come near what's in a can....

                                                                  Small, cubed pieces roasted with olive, salt and pepper @high heat in the oven for as long as it takes to caramelize them...they're like candy.
                                                                  I do the same with kale and brussel sprouts.

                                                                  1. i just wanted to THANK everyone again for their helpful suggestions. I now buy beets every week, I'm usually the main eater of the spoils, but sometimes someone else "ASKS" (I'm not Ipushing them, I swear!) for a serving. I love simply wrapping the unwashed beet in foil, then I throw it in the oven whenever it's on for another job, roast as long as I feel like it, let beet sit in foil jacket til cool, lightly peel the skin, and, voila...I have a lovely little beet to chop up in salad, drizzle in honey mustard/horseradish for a snack, really, possibilities are endless and that's why they are staying on my weekly shopping list. I am happy to have a new "veg" for the rotation!

                                                                    1. I love this recipe for borscht...
                                                                      you could leave the onions out and shred the beets so that no one knows they are there, then tell everybody afterward.

                                                                      I plant a small flowerbed full of beets every spring at my MIL's house to keep the weeds out. She can no longer tend a full garden, so the beets are our summer project. Usually I just can them into pickled beets using vinegar, sugar, and allspice berries. I use these beets for my borscht, replacing the vinegar in the recipe with the beet brine. They're like candy!

                                                                      1. Not sure if you're still looking for suggestions, but if there's an aversion because of prior experience with canned or pickled, I'd avoid the salad recipes - anything with vinegar in it tends to make the beet flavor stand out more, IMO... Agree with those above as well about roasting with skin on or in aluminum - this seems to taste more steamed than roasted to me, which again, reminds me of packaged beets. Peel first, then roast until they blister so you get to enjoy that yummy carmelization! Golden beets are the way to go, too - much milder and sweeter than red.