Vegetable Cooking: Beets

As we continue our series of posts about cooking vegetables, we now take a look at one that many people think they don’t like even though they haven’t tasted it. Personally, I think this is due to some sort of childhood experience, but I’m not a shrink, by any definition.

If we’re going to eat more vegetables, and we should, we need to know how to shop, prepare and cook them. That’s the point of these posts.

By the way, if you have a favorite recipe along these lines, please feel free to share it with all us Bachelor’s Kitchen readers. Just click on the Comments link at the end of this post or send me an email to

Beets. I’ve talked about this root vegetable before when we were discussing winter vegetables that are still available now at the farmers markets. There are several varieties of beets, but not all of them will you see at the market or in the produce aisle at the supermarket.

One of the remarkable things about the beet is that almost everything can be eaten. The green top leaves, or chard, can be cooked like spinach or collards. The stalks can be cleaned and cut into chunks to flavor soup. But the root end is what we think of most and use most from this vegetable.

The beet has been grown for about 4,000 years, mostly around the Mediterranean and Middle East. It became popular in Northern and Eastern Europe because of its hardy nature. Like most root vegetables, it will keep in a cool, dry, dark place for several months.

When choosing beets to cook, look for bulbs that are dark red or bright orange in color. Wash and trim off the greens and tap root. How you cut them will depend on how you plan to cook them.

Roasted or steamed beets are the most popular way to prepare them. Cut into 1/2-inch chunks. For steamed, put into a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes or until tender. To roast, spread the pieces out in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and bake in a pre-heated 500-degree oven for about 30 minutes, turning them over about halfway through.

Beets can also be microwaved. Cut the beets into 1/4-inch rounds and put into a glass pie pan. Add a 1/4 cup water and cover tightly in plastic wrap. Heat on high for 10 minutes, then allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving with butter.