Be An Eater Of Beets
Beets are under appreciated by the home cook. Not by me - I can't get enough. But when I mention to friends that I'm making beets, they just go, "Meh, I never cook beets", or something equally apathetic. But they are wrong.
Beets were one of the first vegetables I learned to cook. I was in love with this beet and avocado salad at the lovely Frankies Spuntino in NYC, and needed to learn to eat it at home very frequently. This is how and why I learned to cook many of my favorite things. I had been cooking beets by roasting them almost exclusively since that time - until recently. After tasting a different but equally spectacular beet salad, I asked my chef friend how they managed to make the beets so special. And then a whole new world was revealed to me - boiled beets. I know what you're thinking, "That sounds super good. Thanks". Well your sarcasm is lost on me. They are boiled in a part water, part vinegar mixture. It is delicious and you must try it.
Thing is, I've been pickling beets nearly as long as I've been roasting them! For sandwiches and salads and what nots. But these nearly-pickled beets are a whole new thing. They are good warm or cold, are just a tad vinegary, and are (of course) packed with that nutritional punch I'm looking for.
Beets are especially high in fiber, essential for good gut health. They are also rich in many phenolic compounds with age-fighting and disease-preventing antioxidant activity (note the hue). Good rule of thumb - choose fresh, brightly colored foods.
Here are some basic instructions for cooking beets this way.
One bunch beets, trimmed of beet greens and scrubbed but not peeled
4 cups water
1 cup vinegar (I like apple cider, but red wine vinegar or even white vinegar work great)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized pot. The liquid should cover the beets by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low to allow beets to simmer for about 40 minutes, or until a knife pierces the beets easily. Allow to cool until cool enough to handle. You can store them in this liquid for up to 2 weeks in the fridge (!!!) and just take out what you need, peel them, and slice them up. Large dice beets and avocado and mix with a balsamic vinaigrette; make a beet and potato thyme hash and top with poached eggs for brunch, or throw on a perfectly curated salade niçoise.