Most Americans have a justifiable aversion to beets. If you are one such unfortunate your memories of the root likely involve tasteless and generally revolting boiled or (worse) canned beets and lectures about the need to eat your vegetables.
And I'll agree without reservation that canned beets, like canned asparagus and most other canned veggies, are among the more revolting foods you'll taste. For my money only canned spinach is worse (though canned potatoes have a certain awfulness all of their own).
So stay away from canned beets. And put away your pot, boiling beets is a practically guaranteed way to ruin them.
Go to the store, buy a bunch of beets and roast 'em. It's not very labor intensive, and the result is delicious.
Basic Roast Beets
Skin the beets then cut into 1/4 inch cubes or strips depending on your taste. I like vaguely french fry shaped and sized chunks, others prefer a more cubical approach.
Put the beets into a large mixing bowl, bigger is better because you'll be stirring and/or tossing them in a moment. Add a few pinches of salt (kosher is best), pepper to taste (go light at first, you don't want to overpower the flavor of the beets; no really!) and less olive oil than you'd think.
Toss, stir and otherwise agitate the mixture to coat the beets evenly with the oil, pepper, and salt.
Scatter on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil.
Roast in a 350 oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
That's it. The aluminum foil will not only make cleanup easy, but also makes it easy to transfer the beets into a serving bowl. Eat them with just about anything, or by themselves. Note that, unlike the mushy, nasty, inedible, canned awful you had as a child, the result is delicious, richly tasty, and generally great.
The exact same method works wonders with potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and just about any other hard vegetable you can name. It also works fantastically for cauliflower, you'll want a shorter roast time for that, 20 or 30 minutes, though a bit of browning is good. I don't like steamed cauliflower at all, just doesn't do it for me, but roast cauliflower is fantastic, the flavor is amazingly complex. It even works for asparagus (though I still like mine steamed too).
It doesn't work at all well for broccoli though, steaming is definitely the only choice for cooking broccoli.
One word of warning, while roast beets are delicious they'll also cause your poop to turn the water in the toilet red giving you (or at least me the first time it happened) a brief frisson of terror as you imagine you've got some horrible disease that's causing internal bleeding before you realize it's just the beets. But other than that there's no downside.
So give it a shot. Beets are relatively cheap, it doesn't take a lot of time or work to prep this, and if you don't like it you'll be out a buck or two and a few minutes of your life. But if you do like it you will have discovered an amazing and obscenely healthy new food.
Last day at Salon
10 months ago