RECIPE: Rethinking Beets

Tina Annibell's Beet Salad with Dill.

“I can’t get over how goooood these are!” she exclaims with wide eyes. Her fork is hovering mid-air, transporting two ruby red beet slices toward her mouth. “Seriously! Beets never tasted like this when my mother used to make them,” she continues. “I think the ones she made were from a can. Oh how I would dread it when she served them at dinner. We all did.”

This woman’s experience is all too common. People eat vegetables that are not fresh or well prepared, and then decide they don’t like it; then it’s written off, often forever. Maybe you can relate. If so, you may very well be missing out on a whole mess of veggies just waiting to delight your taste buds. Many of us aspire to make a positive impact on the world. My method of doing this has become a part of my life’s mission: turning people on to eating (and enjoying) more vegetables. I must admit, when it comes to making beet converts of nonbelievers, I have a pretty stellar track record. The following recipe is the one that does it.


Before I get to that, here are some things you should know:

• Smaller beets take less time to cook and taste less “earthy” than larger beets.
• Handling beets will temporarily stain your fingers pink. This is no reason for concern or dismay. It’s cool to have pink fingers, and after a few hand washings, the color fades.
• If you really can’t get past the pink-stained finger thing, look for golden beets. They won’t stain your fingers or anything else for that matter. And they taste less earthy than red beets.
• Beets are super easy to peel while they’re still warm after cooking. Peeling them when they’re room temperature or cold is a whole different story. Don’t miss the window.
• The greens attached to beets are edible. They’re delicious and taste like spinach. They can be sauteed in garlic and olive oil with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Whether or not you decide to eat them, remove the greens from the beets as soon as you get home from the market. If left on, they’ll pull moisture from the beets.
• To take this dish from good to really great go heavy on the lemon juice, marinate overnight and slice the red onions very thin.

Beets and Dill.

Summer Beets with Dill
7-8 small to medium beets (2 bunches)
½ small red onion, peeled and sliced into very thin slices
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced (If I don’t have on hand, I skip it, still amazingly good)
¼ cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
½ – 1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Cut green tops and tails off of beets. Scrub with a vegetable brush.
2. Place beets in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by two inches and season generously with salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to keep them at a high simmer and cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Drain them in a colander set in the sink and allow to cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, remove their skins, by holding one beet at a time in both hands and rubbing your thumbs over the skin. The skins will easily slip off.
3. While the beets are cooking, slice onions into very thin slices.
4. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt.
5. Cut beets into bite-sized wedges.
6. Combine beets with onions, olive oil mixture and dill. Marinate for 25-30 minutes, longer is better.
7. Taste and adjust seasonings to keep your palate happy. I often add more lemon and a bit more salt. The lemon juice makes the magic, don’t be afraid to add more.

Garden Dill