Beets rouse extreme emotions. You either love them or despise them – there is no in between!
If you happen to love them, you would agree that beets can be the most overpowering vegetable in a dish due to their vibrant pink color. Beets derive their beautiful hue from a pigment called betanin, which is also a powerful antioxidant.
Beets are also rich in fiber, vitamins C and B9, and minerals like potassium, manganese and iron. Consuming beets regularly can improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, aid digestion and suppress the development of certain cancers.
They are high in sugar but low in calories, making them a great power food for those trying to keep their weight in check.
Beets can be eaten raw or cooked easily in the microwave, roasted in the oven, steamed or boiled. They are used for salads, soups, pickling and side dishes.
Before proceeding to any of the cooking methods, prep your beets by following the basic preparation steps.
- Basic Preparation
- Method 1: Fast Roast in a Microwave
- Method 2: Slow Roast in an Oven
- Method 3: Steaming
- Method 4: Boiling
- Method 5: Stir-frying
When buying a batch for cooking, choose beets that are similar in size to ensure that they cook evenly in the same amount of time. Choose those that are firm and have bright-colored leaves.
Things you’ll need:
Step 1. Chop off the leaves
- Leaving about an inch of the stems, chop the leaves off of each beet.
Hold on to those leaves though. They can be cooked separately, just like spinach or kale.
Step 2. Wash the beets and pat them dry
- Wash the beets thoroughly to remove any soil and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Method 1: Fast Roast in a Microwave
Microwaving beets can be a huge time-saver. All you need is a microwave-safe container and some water and you are good to go.
Things you’ll need:
- Water – about 1 cup
- Plastic wrap
Step 1. Place the beets in a bowl and pour in water
- Place equally sized beets in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Pour in about 1 inch of water.
Step 2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & microwave
- Seal the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the microwave.
- Microwave the beets for 6 to 7 minutes. You can check them midway to see if they are cooked and/or turn them over using a pair of tongs.
There is no standard time for microwaving beets. The time varies according to their size. If you can smell the beets while they’re cooking, it is an indication that they are almost ready.
Step 3. Let the beets cool off for a few minutes
- Carefully remove the bowl from microwave. Remember to wear a microwave glove so you don’t burn your hand.
- Remove the plastic wrap and pierce the beets with a knife to check if they are cooked and tender.
- Let them cool off for a few minutes.
Step 4. Peel off the skins, slice and serve
- Remove the skins from the beets.
- Slice them into thin pieces, and they are ready to eat.
Method 2: Slow Roast in an Oven
Roasting beets in the oven can intensify their flavor as well as make it easy to peel off the skin. It also changes the texture from crunchy when raw to smooth and silky after roasting.
Things you’ll need:
- Aluminum foil
Step 1. Poke holes in the beets
- Hold the beet from the stem and use a fork to poke a few holes in each one.
Step 2. Wrap each beet in foil and cook for 50 to 60 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Wrap each beet in aluminum foil, covering it completely from all ends.
- Put them in the oven on a baking tray and roast them for 50 to 60 minutes.
- Check the beets every 20 minutes to ensure that they do not overcook. If they start to scorch or appear dry, sprinkle a few drops of water on them and rewrap in the foil before putting the beets back in the oven.
- The beets are cooked when a knife or fork can slide easily into the middle of the beet.
Step 3. Remove from the oven and let them cool off
- Once cooked, remove them from the oven using a pair of tongs and unwrap the beets.
- Let them cool until they are comfortable to touch.
Step 4. Cut off the stems & roots, peel the skins & serve
- Cut the stem and roots of each beet and peel off the skin.
- Cut them into slices or small pieces, depending on how you want to serve them.
- Serve them sliced or mix them with a few pieces of cottage cheese and chopped cilantro for added flavor.
- If you have leftovers, roasted beets can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Method 3: Steaming
Steaming is another quick and healthy way of cooking vegetables. As the beets are not exposed directly to the water, they retain their earthy flavor and bright pink color.
Step 1. Place sliced beets in a steamer & cover with the lid
- Pour up to 1 inch of water into a large pot. Place the steam basket over the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil and put the beet slices in the steam basket.
- Spread out the slices evenly and put the lid over the steamer.
Step 2. Steam the beets for 7 to 10 minutes
- Let the beets steam for 7 to 10 minutes on low heat.
- Remove the lid and check if the pieces are tender.
Step 3. Transfer them to a plate, garnish and serve
- Turn off the heat and transfer the pieces to a serving plate.
- Garnish them with some cottage cheese and cilantro, and they’re ready to serve.
Method 4: Boiling
Beets can be boiled like any other vegetable. It is best to boil them with the skins on to retain their color and flavor. You can also add some salt and sugar to the boiling water to enhance the flavor.
Step 1. Put beets in water and cover pan with the lid
- Pour about 1 quart of water into a saucepan and place the beets in the water. The beets should be completely submerged.
- Cover the pan with the lid and bring the water to a boil on high heat.
- Optionally, you can add ¼ cup of vinegar to the boiling water to retain the bright pink color of beets.
Step 2. Let the beets cook for 15 to 20 minutes
- Let the beets boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Check if they are cooked and tender by piercing them with a knife.
- Once cooked, turn off the heat and transfer them to a plate.
Don’t throw away the water, as it contains the essential salts. You can use it later to make beet soup.
Step 3. Remove the stems, roots & skin before serving
- Once the beets are cool, chop off the stems and roots and remove the skins.
- Cut them into thin slices and serve.
Method 5: Stir-frying
Beets can be simply stir-fried for a delicious dish. Just drizzle some oil in a pan, sprinkle with salt and lemon juice, and voila! You have a heart-y beet meal.
Things you’ll need:
- Beets – 3
- Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
- Fresh lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
- Black salt – as per your taste
Step 1. Skin the beets and cut them into small pieces
- Remove the stems and roots of the beets.
- Scrape off the skin using a vegetable peeler.
- Slice the beets into small pieces.
Step 2. Stir-fry for 20 to 30 minutes
- Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan on medium-low heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the beets to the pan and sauté for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Keep turning the beets frequently to avoid burning them.
Step 3. Add lemon juice and black salt before serving
- Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and sprinkle some black salt over the beets.
- Mix them well and transfer them to a plate.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
- To retain the maximum flavor, steam or roast the beets instead of boiling them.
- Off-season beets can be tough. Soak them in water overnight to cook them faster the next day.
- When buying beets, look for ones with leaves. Beets with their leaves on are freshly harvested.
- Raw beets can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Chop off the leaves before storing.