In Season: Beet This Savory Sweet Toss

Posted at 5:00 AM Sep 10, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Of late, beets have been in the culinary spotlight and on every haute menu in town (generally paired with goat cheese--wake me up when that trend's over), an usual post of honor for a hideous root veggie. And it's no wonder: once you wash the beasts and peel off their protective, dirt-ridden, pock-marked outer coating, you find a sweet, delectable, unusually versatile veg to which you can apply almost any cooking technique, and one that performs equally well in the sweet and the savory arena.

Beets are teeny little hotbeds of nutrient-rich goodness. Since Roman times, they've been noshed for everything from constipation to protection from birth defects, and recent studies have shown that eating beets helps detoxify the liver (hic!), protect against a variety of cancers and possibly even lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.

NB: once you pluck a bunch or two up at your local farmer's market, there's no need to immediately discard the hefty set of greens. Even if your recipe doesn't call for them, reserve the purple stems and greens to chop up and add to quick sautés, salads or soups. Failing that, they make a darling hat for your pet when quickly knotted together.  

Beet This Savory Sweet Toss
Serves 4 as side dish


One bunch beets with greens (usually 3 large beets or 5 smaller ones)
4 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP maple syrup
2 TBSP olive oil, separated
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh thyme (1 tsp if dried)
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Put large pot of water on stove and crank up the heat to get that puppy boiling.
  • Remove stems from beets and wash both carefully. Reserve beet greens and stems.
  • Dump beet roots (outer layer intact) in boiling water and cook until tender, about 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Chop up stems and leaves and toss with 1 TBSP olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Roast in oven on baking sheet for 20 minutes, moving the leaves around a few times to make sure everything browns.
  • Remove from oven and reserve.
  • Once beets are tender, drain and let cool and then peel the skin off with your fingers, quarter the beets and then slice them lengthwise until they're all roughly the same size.
  • Heat a large sauté pan on high. and put the vinegars in, reducing them by about half. This will take a few minutes.
  • Add the maple syrup and heat; add the oil, then the beets and salt and pepper.
  • Sauté for five to seven minutes, tossing the beets so that they're completely covered, add minced garlic and toss again.
  • Garnish with roasted stems and leaves, add another crank of pepper and serve. Happy eating!


Will said:

Might I recommend beetroot cake

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