If you aren't a fan of beets, here's a recipe that will make you one. And it's so simple, you can make it even if you've never cooked a beet before.
For this Vegan Garlic Butter Beets recipe, I roasted the beets until they were tender, then I sliced them, skin and all, and tossed them with an extraordinarily simple but also extraordinarily flavorful sauce of vegan butter and garlic.
Salt and pepper go in, of course, to season the beets and you're all done. It's simple, easy and absolutely effective at turning veggie haters into veggie lovers.
Why eat beets?
This is a question I used to get so often from Jay, in fact each time he saw me buy these veggies at the market, so let me address that here for anyone who still feels squeamish about these rather odd-looking veggies which cook up so gorgeous--sort of like the ugly ducklings of the vegetable world.
Beets are one of the most nutritious veggies you can eat, packed as they are with vitamins, fiber, potassium and iron. When my brother and I were children, our father would get us to eat beets by telling us that the red beets made our blood redder. While that was a simple and fun way of explaining the nutritive value of beets to kids, the fact is that the high levels of folate and iron in beet are indeed highly beneficial for haemoglobin--the protein molecule in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to different parts of your body.
Beets are not just nutrition superstars though. They are also delicious, with a sweet, deep, earthy flavor that combines well with garlic, lemon and herbs like thyme and rosemary.
People often just eat the roots, but beet greens are just as delicious and nutritious. And they cook fast, like chard or spinach. You can toss them into dals and stews. Indian cooks chop up beet greens and saute them with onions and garlic and green chili peppers into a tasty sabzi or side dish that goes really well with dal. So the next time, do not toss those greens.
How to cook beets
It is natural to look at a beet, bulbous, covered with dirt and, on top of it all, sporting that hairy tail, and wonder what on earth to do with it.
But cooking beets couldn't be easier.
The simplest thing to do with them is to roast them whole. Just place the washed beets, skin intact but tops and bottoms trimmed, on a baking sheet and place them in a 400 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center goes cleanly through. Alternatively you can cover them with water, bring it to a boil, cover and let the beets simmer 35-45 minutes or until they are tender.
Slice them, you don't even need to peel the skins if the beets are organic, and toss them with a bit of olive oil, garlic and salt for a simple side with a Mediterranean flair.
Or grate them raw in a food processor and saute them in a bit of oil to which you've added mustard seeds, slit green chili peppers and a few crushed pods of garlic. They'll cook up tender and delicious in no time at all.
Or chop them when they are raw and roast them, as I do, in this recipe for roasted golden beets with rosemary and garlic. The recipe works just as well with golden beets.
How to make garlic butter beets
This recipe is so darn simple, it is barely a recipe. But here we go.
- Roast the beets: I prefer roasting the beets for this recipe over boiling them because the roasting really intensifies the sweetness of the beets. To do this scrub four small beets (or three medium or two large beets) thoroughly under running water. Cut off the tops and the long tail, then place them on a baking sheet and pop them into a preheated 400-degree oven. Roast 40-50 minutes or until a knife in the center goes through cleanly. Bigger beets will take longer, smaller beets will take less time. It took me about 40 minutes to roast four smallish beets.
- Let the beets cool. If you are using organic beets you can leave the skins on. Beet skins cook up surprisingly soft and are completely edible. Otherwise rub off the skins--they should come off pretty easily--and then slice the beets thinly and cut each slice into half moons.
- In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of vegan butter and four cloves of thinly sliced garlic. As the garlic begins to color slightly, toss in the beets and season with salt and pepper.
- Turn the beets around with a spatula or spoon so they are evenly coated. The garlic will brown a little further. After about three or four minutes turn off the heat.
- Serve hot, warm or cold. You can garnish with parsley, if you want, but that would only gild the lily.
Vegan Garlic Butter Beets
- 4 beets (small to medium. If using larger beets use 2 or 3. Trim off the greens,and cut off the tails, then scrub the beets clean under running water.)
- 1 tbsp vegan butter (use 2 for even more flavor)
- 4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the beets on a baking sheet and pop them into the oven. Let them cook 40-50 minutes until a knife goes cleanly through the thickest part of the beet.
- Let the beets cool until you can handle them, then slice them thinly. Cut each slice into half or fourths if using large beets.
- Place the butter and garlic in a sklllet. Let them heat together over medium-low heat. This will help infuse the garlic flavor through the oil.
- As the garlic starts to turn color and becomes lightly blonde, add the sliced beets. Add salt and ground black pepper. Move the beets around to coat them in the garlic-butter mixture.
- Turn off the heat after three to four minutes. Serve the beets hot, warm or at room temperature.