Beetroot recipes for someone who hates beetroot.
May 30, 2019 10:00 AM   Subscribe

I will eat anything that walks, crawls, swims, flies or comes out of the ground with very few exceptions. One of those exceptions is beetroot. There's something about the texture and the smell that I really dislike. Now I've been given a seed tray full of beetroot plants that I'm about to plant out and I'm thinking that it's a good time to overcome my aversion.

I used to hate peas until a few years ago when I tasted pee purée with mint and lemon juice. Now I love peas.
I'm looking for similar recipes for beetroot, some pairing that will not so much disguise the taste but will transform it in some way.

BTW, I made borscht earlier this year, I didn't love it I'm afraid.
posted by night_train to Food & Drink (48 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I grate fresh beets and put on a dressing of balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil with garlic, maybe a little seasoned salt. If the fresh garlic is too stark I will put it in the microwave coated with the olive oil for 15 seconds. This is how I eat them when I eat them. I have a dozen beets in my fridge right now.
posted by Oyéah at 10:05 AM on May 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I wasn't super keen on beets till I had them cut in small chunks, deep fried, and served with Kewpie mayo at East Side King. That was my beet gateway drug and now I like them in all forms.

They mention that they're roasted first and then fried. Here's a recipe that purports to be them.

Man, I love those fried beets.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:05 AM on May 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

Pickle it and use it as a salad or cheese and crackers garnish. Everything else is gross.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:05 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Pickled beets, made with brown sugar. So yummy. Best in a beetroot sandwich (butter, beets, chewy white bread)
posted by Ftsqg at 10:06 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have given up on liking the roots, but the tender leaves are delicious as salad greens.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:07 AM on May 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

Well roasted beets, diced into 1/2" cubes, and topped with whipped honey ricotta. It's like dessert. You really need to make sure the beets are nice and tender when roasted though, it totally changes the flavor and texture.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:07 AM on May 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

Roasted beets, if you've not tried them that way, may change your mind.

Simply wrap them in foil, or put them in a covered ceramic oven dish and roast them in a 400 degree oven for around 45 minutes (depending on the size of the beets). They're done when they're easily pierced through with a sharp knife.

A simple salad of chopped roasted beets, mint, lemon juice and olive oil, jazzed up with a little crumbled feta or crumbled goat's cheese is delicious, IMO.

There's also this, which is pretty fantastic:

Beets and Caramelized Onions with Feta (this calls for canned beets, but I use roasted ones)
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:08 AM on May 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

Or maybe whipped goat cheese? I had this about 4 years ago and can't quite remember...
posted by DoubleLune at 10:08 AM on May 30, 2019

Beet and labneh dip! I haven't made it myself so can't recommend a recipe, but it's a pretty common thing (Googling brings up lots of recipes) and when a coworker brought some to a potluck it was to die for. I do like beets to begin with, but the addition of the labneh really does transform the taste into something tangy and mouthwatering. Man oh man.
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:09 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like beets in most of their forms, but coffee roasting beets changes their flavor in an interesting way.
posted by another zebra at 10:12 AM on May 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

What got me over my own anti-beet attitude was a simple (canned, but roasted would also work) beet-and-goat-cheese salad with cranberries and nuts and a vinaigrette dressing. Served that way, they are one note in a sweet-and-tangy forkful. It's a very sort of 80s dish but you can still find it in a lot of restaurants that have multiple salad options.

This beet dip from Ottolenghi looks pretty good, too.
posted by praemunire at 10:19 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Roasted beets & carrots. Toss with balsamic vinegar a drizzle of olive oil.

Nice hot or cold.

Various beetroot dips. I like this one, but there are many out there.
posted by wwax at 10:20 AM on May 30, 2019

I should have been more specific: pickled shredded beet root! Fast, easy, delicious.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:25 AM on May 30, 2019

Get fresh ones in their skins (not pre-peeled & pickled in vinegar as I wonder if this is where some of your dislike is coming from given that that's such a common way to serve them), peel them & chop them into half-inch chunks, then toss them with oil, salt, pepper & a bit of honey. Roast them until they're soft and starting to caramelise around the edges (40 minutes+, they get softer and sweeter the more time you give them), then in the last 10-15 minutes add some goat cheese in whatever format you like it best (blue cheese works here instead if you prefer, and you can add nuts at this stage too if you're into that).

Soft, sweet roasted beets are a very different vegetable to the salad kind.
posted by terretu at 10:29 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here is the very simple salad recipe that to me is like dessert(!!): grated beetroot (raw), carrot and apple with lots of lemon juice. You can vary the ratio of the ingredients as you like, but I like 1 beetroot, 1 or 2 carrots and 2 or 3 peeled apples (depending on size). A variety of apple that is juicy and tart is best. And the longer the salad sits in the fridge, the juicier and tastier it gets. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!
posted by piamater at 10:31 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

This may be too much of a disguise-the-taste rather than transform-the-taste recipe, but it's too good not to share...

Maritimers Mint Chocolate Beet Cake (mint extract is optional and can be omitted or substituted)

The Canadian Maritimes don't have an over-abundance of wheat, but they do alright at growing beets, and the beets make for an incredibly moist delicious cake. This is one of those recipes that got passed around from housewife-to-housewife half a century ago, original source unknown. Oh, and this version of the recipe doesn't state it, but if you're using fresh beets they should be cooked and then pureed.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 10:33 AM on May 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

You might try a mixed vegetable hash. To maximize things going on that aren't beets, cook up a little bacon in a saute pan and then saute shredded beet in the bacon fat along with other shredded root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and/or carrots, with a bit of minced onion, until everything is quite soft and crisped on the edges. Similar to roasting in outcome, but working with shredded vegetables maximizes the surface area that gets carmelized and minimizes the interior area that stays...rooty.
posted by drlith at 10:35 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I only ever use beets in fresh horseradish sauce. It's a pain to make, but it's great.

You take a horseradish, you peel it (under water is the only way) and cut it into chunks. You take your cooked beets -- you can buy them pre-cooked, I don't know if canned works the same, it might -- and some white vinegar and a little bit of sugar and salt, and you cuisinart the hell out of it. Best to wear goggles while doing this, and do not breathe in when you open up the cuisinart to taste. I find it's best to freeze this for a bit before serving, that mellows it and gives some liquid a chance to come out so you can dispose of it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:38 AM on May 30, 2019

Whipped up into beet hummus!
posted by neroli at 10:40 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

We simply fry beets in a frying pan until they're crisp. Scrumptious!
posted by purplesludge at 10:45 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Grated or spiralized beets and carrots, mixed with garlic, cilantro, minced jalapeño, salt, and a generous amount of lime juice. It’s a salad! It’s a condiment! It’s a taco filling! It is good piled on top of every grilled meat, fish, or cheese I’ve piled it on! If someone is allergic to tomatoes it can stand in for salsa! I do like beets, but these flavors transform them, and they’re in tiny thin pieces so they’re just crunchy and nice.
posted by centrifugal at 10:53 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pickled or roasted, but if all else fails beets = Swiss chard so cook the greens.
posted by Botanizer at 11:02 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Juiced with apples and carrots they mostly add color and, if memory serves, a bunch of iron and vitamin A.

Also I am the last person to mention such things but in case you eat a bunch of them you may experience alarming-looking but harmless effects the next day.
posted by Smearcase at 11:02 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

You could try them in a Dutch recipe: Pink salad.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:02 AM on May 30, 2019

The Botanist in the Kitchen: The Beet Goes On.

Includes evolutionary history, discussion of reasons for the common aversion, and recipes — and a declaration by the author that her aim is to "turn the beet around for you."

I'm not eating them yet, but I'm thinking about it.
posted by jamjam at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2019

The cookbook I recommend every five minutes has a recipe for borscht that also includes cherries and berries, and that may disguise the taste for you.

Another option I haven't seen mentioned - eating the greens! Those are edible, and can be used in recipes calling for Swiss Chard. They also taste "un-beet-like" and you may prefer those.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:13 AM on May 30, 2019

Don't give up on beets until you've tried small, young beets, fresh out of the ground. Steamed, with butter, yum.
posted by H21 at 11:16 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Beet orange salad is lovely. The citrus balances the earthiness of beets. There are many excellent variations.

Beet chips are crunchy and fun. Experiencing a food in a different format can help shift perspectives (much like the pureed peas).

Also, have you tried different varieties of beets? Chioggia beets and golden beets have a much milder beet flavor. Harder to find in the average supermarket; abundant at farmer's markets. Recipes to try: chioggia beets with ricotta salata and hazelnuts; golden beets and Brussels sprouts

Finally, there are many versions of borscht. Try another if one didn't do it for you. Some variations are:
Barszcz czerwony (Polish clear broth borscht with mushroom dumplings)
Šaltibarščiai (Lithuanian cold borscht with kefir/yogurt/buttermilk)
An Ashkenazi variation on cold beet soup
A thicker beef borscht
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

For borscht, I slow cook the beets in a strong hibiscus tea and Korean Yuzu (sweet lemon) and it's fantastic.
posted by effluvia at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2019

Oh! And beet kvass! If you like kombucha or fermented foods or beverages, beet kvass may be the gateway beet recipe you're looking for. Here's a recipe for beet ginger kvass.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:58 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sliced thinly and dehydrated, beets become nice crunchy snacks. I haven’t done this myself — only bought packaged ones from Trader Joe’s — but I imagine it could be done by baking on low heat for a long time.
posted by snowmentality at 12:28 PM on May 30, 2019

Agreed that younger beets really are a whole different animal to older, verrrry earthy beets. I will slice them into pretty slim wedges, roast with other good root veg: radishes, parsnip, carrot, onion, new potatoes. Then you can serve with any of the dairy-type toppings recommended above, brown butter, or a good vinaigrette.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:37 PM on May 30, 2019

Beet greens are the most delicious of all greens. (But go easy on them if you have a tendency to get kidney stones.)
posted by chromium at 12:55 PM on May 30, 2019

Fermented. They’re beyond good! Especially mixed with mayo.
posted by bluebird at 12:57 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Botwinka is fresh and lovely - I personally use cider vinegar instead of lemon juice and add sour cream, not heavy cream. It really brings up the bright taste of young beets.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:05 PM on May 30, 2019

They are really delicious in this russian vinaigrette salad. To make it extra amazing, make sure to use a nice sharp pickle like strubs full sour.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:21 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yet another vote for pickled & grated (as a condiment), roasted young beets with goat cheese and greens and a tangy dressing, and beet "hummus" (unlike the recipe linked above, I usually make it with a 1:1 ratio of roasted chopped beets to either chickpeas or white beans, so it's still a gorgeous color but the beet flavor is rounded out by the legumes).

Also, if you combine chopped-up roasted beets and some soft/spreadable cheese like chevre (and maybe some feta mixed in too, but you need enough chevre or boursin or ricotta for it to get creamy) with just-drained hot pasta (shells are good), and season it with salt and pepper and maybe something tangy, it turns bright pink and you can call it beet mac'n'cheese and convince children to eat it. Sometimes.

But the no. 1 beet disliker kryptonite, in my experience, is some variation on Nigel Slater's moist chocolate beetroot cake recipe, which is amazing--it doesn't taste too beety at all, and it's better than most non-beet-containing chocolate cakes I've tried. There are a whole bunch of variations online but this is the one I usually start with. It's very good with cream-cheese frosting as a sweeter alternative to the crème fraîche.
posted by karayel at 1:36 PM on May 30, 2019

My first definitively positive experience with beets was this surprisingly delicious Beet and Tomato Soup (I actually omitted the yogurt and added some white beans). I don't know if it meets your criteria of "transforming" the beets, but I suggest giving it a try anyway because it's dead simple and you probably already have all the other ingredients.
posted by gueneverey at 1:42 PM on May 30, 2019

Many thanks for all the great suggestions. It will be a few months before I harvest but I'm tempted to buy some beets to try a few of these recipes.
posted by night_train at 2:35 PM on May 30, 2019

If I could somehow find my grandparent's method of pickled beets... they had to ration them out or I would have eaten all of them ½ a beet at a time in a couple of months. So pickle!
posted by zengargoyle at 3:57 PM on May 30, 2019

This salad/slaw is incredible.
posted by gryphonlover at 4:32 PM on May 30, 2019

Fresh beet-carrot-apple-lemon-ginger juice is sweet, spicy goodness and a gorgeous deep red color to boot.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:10 PM on May 30, 2019

You can always try recipes which are mainly using them for the colour, like beetroot-dyed eggs or beetroot-cured salmon. The salmon is incredibly pretty, with the sunset effect of the orange grading into pink, and doesn’t taste too much of beetroot.

I’m pretty ambivalent about beetroot myself, I sometimes enjoy it in small quantities but I can’t take a lot of it. But fwiw, one classic combination I haven’t seen mentioned above it beetroot and smoked fish: beetroot, smoked mackerel and horseradish, for example.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:45 AM on May 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding fermented. You peel and slice them, put them in a jar, and add some grated ginger and squeezed, chopped garlic; perhaps a few mustard seeds or some dille seeds or so, and cover with brine (6 cups of water to 50g salt). Don't fill up to the rim or you'll get an inundation when the fermentation starts.
Keep on counter or in fridge to ferment, open the lid a few times every day to release the burpy-burp. It's likely ready any time from between four days and a week and can be kept in the fridge for at least two weeks, likely much longer (they never last so long here...).

Why this is a great solution for the beet hater: because the beets' natural sickly-sweetness gets 'fermented away' as it were; it turns into a kind of briny sourness after a while. The earthy taste goes MUCH better together with the latter than the former. And indeed, sliced and mixed with some mayo, these beets are a treat.
posted by Namlit at 3:55 AM on May 31, 2019

I never liked beets much either, and in fact still don't, except this one recipe: Beets with Mustard and Tarragon. I think it does exactly what you're looking for with regard to "transforming" the taste.
posted by slenderloris at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2019

How about šaltibarščiai? It is kind of an eastern European gazpacho. Very refreshing and a lovely pink color too.
posted by medeine at 12:40 PM on May 31, 2019

I've been harvesting beets for the last week. They're are just above golf ball size. I've tried a few of the recipes suggested here and my favourite so far is the first one suggested by Oyéah. I've been experimenting with variations of this recipe and they're all good. 'Grated' is definitely the way to go. I added some grated beet to my zucchini fritter recipe yesterday and they were a big hit. The green are delicious and they alone make growing beets worthwhile. When they get to tennis ball size I will try pickling. Many thanks again to all who answered.
posted by night_train at 9:23 AM on July 17, 2019

Oh! Red flannel hash!

This is a classic old-school New England recipe, which is simply corned beef hash with some beets thrown in. You can of course play around with just how many beets, or swap the corned beef out for another meat substance, or leave it out entirely, or slap a fried egg on top, was originally invented to use up the leftovers from the super-traditional "New England Boiled Dinner" so it's a kind of clean-out-the-fridge type of recipe as it is. My mother is a big fan, but I weirdly don't remember her ever serving it to us when we were kids.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on July 17, 2019

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