I used to be such a beet hater. I loathed beets so much, I couldn’t even stand to be in the same room while they were cooking! They were just so earthy and yucky smelling (and tasting). Blech.
But as I started to explore more foods in the past few years, beets have slowly made it off my blacklist—I love how you can evolve your tastebuds. I wouldn’t say beets are one of my most favorite foods, but I will say that I can definitely appreciate a good beet recipe (there is a beet and black bean burger recipe in my cookbook that is probably my most favorite recipe in the whole book). And these roasted beets have become a staple in our diet.
I think I struggled with beets for so long because they are one of those foods that can be totally hit or miss depending on the quality of the beet and the cooking method. I try not to be much of a food snob, but beets are one of those veggies that I’ll only eat if they are super high-quality (preferably locally grown). In my opinion, you can really tell a difference! Ever cracked open and tried to cook a can of beets off the store shelf? They barely even resemble the sweet, nutty taste of high-quality fresh beets. And if you’re already on the fence about beets, then eating them out of the can is going to give you a hefty shove onto the “no thank you” side.
I also think what makes this dish such a good one to help convert beet haters is the use of golden beets. Golden beets are becoming increasingly easier to find (we can get them at our local supermarket), and they still have a lot of beet-y flavor, but less of the earthy taste that turns a lot of folks off from beets. They are very sweet, and I think they look absolutely beautiful mixed in with the deep scarlet beets. If you have a nice farmers’ market in your area, you also might be able to find an even wider variety of beets than just purple and yellow. We have always had terrible luck growing beets in our area—I so wish we could figure out the secret, because there are some seriously cool beet varieties out there that would be so fun to have in our garden.
If you’ve never worked with beets before, let me give you a bit of a primer. First things first, don’t you dare throw out those beet tops! Beet greens are 100% edible and super delicious. They have a mild beet flavor, and work well anywhere you’d use other leafy greens like kale or chard.
A word of warning, you might be surprised by how much those red beets will stain your digits, so if you don’t want to walk around the next day with red hands, you might be inclined to wear a pair of gloves while working with the beets.
Roasting beets is easy work, but it isn’t fast—so this probably isn’t a recipe for your rushed Tuesday evening dinner. Save it for a Sunday afternoon supper. I recommend serving them up with a perfectly roasted chicken, some mashed potatoes, and some biscuits. And then invite me over—I’ll bring wine.