Please, Someone Help Me like Beets

Photo by CN Digital StudioPhoto by CN Digital StudioBy Siobhan Adcock, Epicurious.com

Some foods are lightning-rods; people either love them or detest them. (Brussels sprouts and bananas, we're looking at you.) Beets not only fall into this controversial camp, they might have actually pitched all the tents, hobbled the horses, and laid the logs in the firepit.

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Beet-lovers will say blithely, "Oh, you just haven't found the right recipe yet. Beets are the best." The best, eh? I may speak for many beet-haters when I suggest that any vegetable you have to roast into oblivion or coat with goat cheese to make palatable cannot possibly be "the best." I mean, a leather shoe is probably tasty if you roast it long enough with salt and olive oil.

But there are many things to admire about the beet: Aside from its undeniably beautiful color, the average beet packs in 37% of your daily folate, 15% of your daily fiber, and 11% of your daily Vitamin C requirements (oh, and 22% of your magnesium...that's got to be good for some body part...). I would like to like beets. I really would. Someone, please help me.

Enter Food52. Now, one of the many admirable features of Amanda Hesser's site is its monthly contest, which encourages readers to submit their best recipes for specific ingredients or themes. The winners of the first year's worth of contests are included in the recently-published Food52 Cookbook, which Esther reviewed here in December. And since many of Food52's readers are like our own Epicurious crowd, that is, passionate home cooks with great taste, I thought a good place to start looking for a beet recipe that would help me like beets might be Food52's beet contest.

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A few of the top-rated beet recipes from the Food52 book that I, Siobhan Adcock, beet-hater, pledge bravely to try:

Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Beets, Oranges, and Walnuts
Ingredients

  • 2 medium beets, trimmed and scrubbed
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed, dried, and torn into pieces
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil

Preparation

1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Lay the beets on one half of a large piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt. Fold the foil in half to make a packet and roll the edges to seal. Lay on a baking sheet and roast until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool. Peel the beets and slice into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.

2. Keep the oven at 350°F; toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for a few minutes, 5 to 7, until they smell good. Remove the nuts and let them cool while you wash and dry the lettuce and tear it into a salad bowl.

3. Zest one orange-you need 1 teaspoon grated zest. Using a very sharp knife, cut the ends from the oranges, slicing just deep enough to expose the flesh. Cut off the remaining peel and pith. Then, working over a bowl, remove the segments, cutting between the membrane. Place the segments in a strainer to drain off excess juice.

4. Whisk together the dressing ingredients-the shallot, fennel seeds, and lemon juice-in a small bowl, adding the oil last, whisking as you pour it in so the dressing emulsifies a bit. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

5. Toss the nuts, beets, oranges, and the dressing with the salad, adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately.


French "Peasant" Beets (This recipe was the Beet contest winner.)

Pink Greens
(Okay, technically this might be cheating since it's a recipe for beet greens, but let's consider it a gateway drug.)

There are obviously plenty of tasty beet recipes in the Epicurious archives too. I seem to have a problem bigger than my beet-hating problem, which is trying to narrow down a few too many choices.

Beet-lovers, where would you start if you were going to try to rehabilitate an inveterate beet-hater?

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