Three-Speed Dinners: Beets

Earthy, sweet, and versatile, take beets (and beet greens!) for a spin in soups, salads, and sides.
Published August 1, 2016

It’s beet season! We know, not many people get excited about beets. But that’s because they don’t know the sweet, earthy flavor. We’d love to change that with a composed salad that’s a riff on salad Niçoise, the beets standing in for the potatoes; or our easy take on the classic beet soup, borscht, a make-ahead you can keep for several days.

And it’s not just the beets themselves. Don’t waste those greens! They’re sweeter than chard, not as assertive as kale. It only takes a quick sauté or stir-fry to get them tender. We’ve got some spicy, oven-crisp turkey cutlets that go perfectly with the greens.

As a real boon to us beet lovers, we can now find shrink-wrapped, fully-cooked beets in the produce section of most supermarkets. These have a better texture than canned beets: firmer, not nearly so slippery, more like roasted beets. They’re a snap to add to salads when we don’t want to heat up the house roasting beets.

When you’re shopping for fresh beets, look for those with the greens and roots attached. The greens should be fresh and vibrantly colored, without brown or squishy bits; the roots should be supple and still delicately colored.

At home, remove the greens and wrap these tightly in plastic wrap. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them. They’ll stay in the fridge a couple of days. Drop the beets themselves into plastic bags, seal them, and store them (without peeling) for up to 2 weeks in the vegetable crisper.

You can also substitute yellow or even striped beets for the ones in our borscht, although the soup will be a little more lurid in its color and not quite as sweet.

About the 20-Minute Tuna and Beet Composed Salad

If you don’t feel like cooking your own, use the shrink-wrapped beets from the produce section, rather than canned beets, to make this easy, cool salad. If you want to make life even easier, you can find blanched green beans and quartered beets at the salad bar of many supermarkets. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.

About the 40-Minute Oven-Fried Turkey Cutlets with Beet Greens

Wash beet greens well. They can be sandy. Use a salad spinner or fill a clean, stoppered sink about halfway with water, add the greens, and stir them around. Leave them alone for 10 minutes, then lift them out of the sink, before draining away the sand and water below. Once cleaned, these greens make a sweet, aromatic bed for spicy turkey breast cutlets, crisp from the oven. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.

About the All-Day (Slow Cooker) Beet Borscht with Tzatziki

This recipe’s a little different than others in this column. Instead of making an all-day dish while you’re at work or running errands, this one asks you to cook a fresh beet soup overnight, then puree it and chill it all day (or for several days) until you’re ready to serve it. If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a standard blender but watch out for splatters and drips. (Beet juice is a committed foe of linens, counters, and tiles.) For a heartier meal, add 4 ounces purchased lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage, to each serving. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.