Beets are one of the eight or so Ontario vegetables that grow all the way until November, and there is an abundance of just harvested, locally grown beets on our shelves and in farmers markets all across the province. When we discuss beets, we are usually referring to the taproot, the root of the beet, but beet tops-or beet greens- are also packed with vitamins and flavour, and are great cooked or raw. Today we’ve got the greatest beet salad recipe you’ll ever taste.
Beets ( beet taproots) are a staple of autumn dining in Canada, and the brilliant dark red and purple root vegetable can be prepared in numerous ways. Baked or roasted alone or with other fall veggies, they make a healthy and attractive side dish. An instant pickle recipe of my mother-in-law’s calls for steaming the beets, slicing them and dousing them with a healthy amount of apple cider vinegar. Seasoned with salt and pepper and served alongside a roast pork they are always a hit, and nothing could be easier.
Beets are also great raw, grated into your favourite coleslaw recipe they add colour, crunch and numerous health benefits. Another super quick and easy salad is to grate equal parts raw beets and raw carrot, add a little minced garlic and a handful of chopped parsley, season and dress with a basic vinaigrette. This healthy and pretty salad makes a fantastic side for a tuna sandwich, but is great all on its own.
Beet juice is one of the darlings of raw-food enthusiasts and juicers, as beets contain high levels of folic acid, manganese, and a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflamatory phytonutrient called Betalain, thought to be an anti-cancer compound. Since the ancient Romans, people have been using beets as medicinal aids in the treatment of fevers, constipation and other ailments of the digestive system.
But it is the green itself that really knocks it out of the park when it comes to nutrition. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods beet greens offer “Unusually Comprehensive Nutrition”, and rank as one of the top ten foods ever profiled. For example, one cup of boiled beet greens, ringing in at 39 calories, offers an incredible 775% of your recommended daily allotment of vitamin K. And it just keeps getting better, have a look!
Beet greens, the above ground part of the beet plant, is just about as wonderful as its subterranean nether regions. They have a flavor profile similar to Swiss Chard and are super simple to prepare, whether steamed, sautéed, wilted or torn raw and tossed into a salad. Even the stems are packed with the same nutrients and flavour, and chopped, make a great, crunchy and brilliant addition to a stir-fry or succotash. A good idea is to roast a dozen or so medium sized beets and keep them handy in the fridge for up to a week, and use them in a variety of ways throughout the week.
To roast, peel the beets, rub a little olive oil on them, season them and wrap in aluminum foil and place them on a tray. Let them roast in a 350 F oven for about half an hour or until soft. Be careful when removing them from the oven as roasting will release some juices. Of course they are fantastic served hot, with butter, salt and pepper.
Here is a really delicious salad you can throw together in a few minutes. The squeaky, salty cheese is the perfect balance for the mellow, sweet beets, and the herbs add that little hint of late summer.
Salad of Roast Beets and Halloumi with Chives and Tarragon
4 roasted beets, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 medium thick slices of halloumi
4 sprigs chives
4 sprigs Tarragon
salt and pepper to season
Slice the halloumi. Heat oil to hot in frying pan and quickly fry the halloumi on both sides. Put the hot halloumi in a bowl with sliced beets. Toss with a tablespoon (or to taste) vinaigrette, season, and serve with fresh tarragon and chopped chives