The beet is often relegated to the Thanksgiving table in America, where children conveniently push the unfortunate pickled relish to the side of their plate to focus on the turkey and gravy instead. It’s unfortunate that the beet has such a bad reputation since this highly flavorful root vegetable is packed with antioxidants, magnesium, and fiber and when roasted correctly, adds rich, earthy flavor to a recipe.

The beet originated in the Mediterranean and up until the nineteenth century, when French chefs realized the flavor and color virtues of the root bulb itself, it was the leafy greens that were consumed by ancient European civilizations. The Romans relegated the beet bulb to the medicine cabinet and also believed it incited amorous emotions.

Today, beets are dehydrated and ground into colorful powders that are used to tint bacon, ice cream, and even canned tomato sauce. And due to their high sugar content, beets are also valued as a sweetener with sugar beets supplying the world with thirty percent of its sugar. Beet juice is also used in some cultures as makeup to tint the cheeks and lips with a rosy hue.

Beets come in a vibrant array of colors from deep ruby, gold, white, and even candy striped. When roasted properly, these healthy flavor bombs are sure to find a prominent place on your kitchen table and will come to be seen as more than a dreaded Thanksgiving garnish.

Here’s how to roast your beets:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. To prepare the beets, first cut off the leaves and their stems with a chef’s knife. Leave about two inches of stem attached to the beet. This makes an ideal handle once the beet is ready to be peeled after the roasting process is complete.
  3. Reserve the greens for another use. They are lovely when braised, sauteed in olive oil and then drizzled with balsamic and sprinkled with crunchy sea salt, or served in a salad. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days once they are removed from the beet.
  4. Rinse the beets under cold running water to remove residue and pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. Place the beets in a large bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss the beets until they are glistening with oil.
  6. Wrap each beet individually in a double layer of aluminum foil. Be sure they are wrapped securely and completely to prevent dripping. Beets the size of a golf ball or smaller can be wrapped together but larger beets should be wrapped separately.
  7. Roast the beets on a sheet tray for between 55 to 70 minutes. The sheet tray ensures that your oven will remain clean should dripping occur.
  8. Smaller beets will cook more quickly. Check for doneness after 45 minutes by poking the beets with a skewer or a fork. If they are tender, remove from the oven using a pair of tongs. Check each beet individually because they will have different cooking times depending upon their size.
  9. Once the beets are cool enough to handle but still warm, discard the foil and peel by holding the stem handle in one hand and a double layer of paper towels in the other. The peeling should slide off easily as long as the beets are still warm.
  10. Beets will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

And here’s how to eat them:

Salt Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

Alexandra’s Kitchen

This recipe is so simple, but still packs a flavorful punch with a tangy kick from goat cheese and a toasty crunch from the walnuts. Get the recipe.

Roasted Beets with Orange and Rosemary

The Lemon Bowl

Citrus is a beet’s perfect dancing partner because its bright flavor perks up the earthy notes of the beet. Rosemary adds depth and nuance to this easy to prepare yet elegant recipe. Get the recipe.

Roasted Beet Salad with Tahini Sauce

Heather Christo

The tahini sauce in this recipe adds an exotic flavor component to this vegan dish that is made vibrant with lemon juice and sweet with a drizzle of maple syrup. Get the recipe.

Coconut Oil Roasted Beets

Happy Healthy Mama

Jump on the coconut trend by swapping out olive oil for coconut oil. It adds a level of sweetness straight from the islands and lends roasted beets an unexpected hint of tropical flavor. Get the recipe.

Roasted Beet-Almond Spaghetti

Tastemade

It doesn’t get any more fun or healthy than this recipe that swaps out traditional pasta sauce for roasted beets and almonds. Once you get the hang of the technique, this is sure to become a go-to recipe when something special is required on the dinner table. Get the recipe.

Beet Ice Cream

Arcadian Ash

Beet ice cream might sound unappealing, but the sugars in beets lend themselves naturally to ice cream and the intense beet color infuses it with eye-popping fuchsia. Get the recipe.

— Head photo: flickr (Rod Waddington).

Jody Eddy is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. Her most recent cookbook was "Cuba! Recipes and Stories From a Cuban Kitchen", published by Ten Speed Press. Her cookbook "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" was published by Ten Speed Press in 2014 and won the 2015 IACP Judge's Choice Award. She is the author of the James Beard nominated cookbook "Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants" and her upcoming book for Ten Speed, "The Hygge Life", will be published in November, 2017. She is writing a cookbook for W.W. Norton profiling the cuisine and food traditions of monasteries, temples, mosques and synagogues around the world which will be published in 2019 and a cookbook with the Food Network chef Maneet Chauhan profiling the cuisine of India via an epic train journey throughout the country. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. She is the author of JodyEddy.com, leads culinary trend tours for food and beverage corporations in Iceland, Peru, Mexico, Ireland and Cuba and is the Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships and Events at Hop Springs, an 85 acre agritourism destination opening in Nashville in May, 2018.
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