The photo above are beets from my garden. The red beet is a Detroit Dark Red, and the yellow beet is a Burpee’s Golden OG. Both are from www.seedsavers.org
There are only a few plants that can be eaten roots to leaves, and beets are one of those plants. But beets are not only edible; they are delicious! On top of that, beets are also nutritional powerhouses. Let’s take a closer look at the incredible, edible beet.
Beet Roots can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw beet roots sliced thin and eaten plain or mixed into salads or other dishes… they will still “bleed” a bit, so make sure the meal can handle the color. I think it gives great visual interest to a dish.
My favorite is slow roasting as it seems to concentrate the sugars in the root. I simply wash the dirt off the roots, lightly sprinkle with oil, wrap in foil, and bake in the oven at 375 F (190 C) for 30-90 minutes. The large beets take longer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. The skins will easily peel right off. Wear gloves unless you don’t mind pink hands for a day!
Beet Greens are a great leaf vegetable. The young leaves can be eaten raw alone or mixed with other greens into a salad. The older leaves get much tougher. Red beet leaves seem to get more tough than lighter colored beet leaves in my experience, but that just may have been the varieties I have grown so far. The tougher leaves can be steamed or wilted in a pan with a little butter or broth, and they are a wonderful replacement or adjunct to cooked spinach, collards, etc.
I experimented with this one first, then found out I was not the first person to do so (for more of my thoughts on discovering something others have already discovered, please ready my article on Permaculture… Nothing New Under the Sun). Ultimately, I don’t care whether it was my idea or not, I have a great way to utilize the stems, which I call Beet Ribs. And yes I know the difference between a stem, petiole, and midrib, but I like calling them Beet Ribs. I just think that sounds much more dignified and gourmet.
No matter what you call them, they can be sauteed in some butter or oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. When cooked until tender, they will taste like a mix between beets and asparagus. Very addicting!
I make it a general rule not to publish food photos as they never look anything like they do in real life. The food usually looks rather unappetizing. They only reason I added one today was that a picture is way easier to show than describe. This meal utilizes the whole beet, root, stems (ribs!), and greens.
The beets are slow roasted as described above. The stems are sauteed with butter as described above. The greens are sauteed with butter and homemade chicken and pork stock. The beef tenderloin was rinsed, dried, allowed to come to room temperature, seasoned with Kosher salt, fresh-cracked black pepper, and freshly ground dried rosmemary from my garden. The beef was seared in a pan with some butter until browed all over. It was then placed in a medium-heated oven for about 15 minutes. After cooked and allowed to rest for 15 minutes, it was sliced thin. Alternating thin slices of beets and beef were laid out over a bed of beet greens.
I also roasted some chicory (endive) as well since I had some in the refrigerator (rolled in olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper). The Beet Ribs were placed over this on either side of the beef and beets. The pan where the beef was cooked was deglazed with some Port and over-ripe blackberries, which I also had in the refrigerator. Then this was put into a food processor. A small red onion was added, along with some more broth, and about a tablespoon of honey. This was pureed and strained and used as a sauce for the dish.
There you have it. My Beef Tenderloin Medalions with Beets Three Ways!
Health Benefits of Beets:
- High in Fiber – both soluble and insoluble types
- High in Folic Acid – prevents neural tube defects
- High in Boron – aids in healthy sex hormone production
- High in Potassium
- High in Magnesium
- High in Phosphorus
- High in Iron
- High in Vitamins A, B & C
- High in Beta-carotene
- High in Beta-cyanine
- High in natural nitrates
- Contains many phytonutrients (like betacyanin) which research has linked to lower cancer rates (especially colon cancer)
- Beet consumption has been associated with lower rates of heart disease
- Beets are touted as great blood and liver cleansers and de-toxifiers… I’m still trying to determine what this means and if it has been scientifically proven, but it has been used for this in complimentary/alternative/traditional medicine for ages.
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Photo References: All photos in this article are mine. Please ask if you would like to use them!