Whenever I see a stack of beets, I think back to the summer Josh and I worked together at Hawthorne Valley Farm. We were both on the leadership team — he was the onsite nurse, and I helped manage the camp for the younger kids.
On top of our day-to-day jobs, we delved into farm life. I taught a daily food preservation class to the campers. We ran a goat workshop together. We helped herd the dairy cows. And we ate a lot of delicious, home cooked food.
All of the food we ate that summer was made from scratch. The beans were soaked and cooked. The desserts were made fresh each day. And lots of the food was grown right on the farm, from the sourdough bread to the whole milk yogurt to most of the veggies.
One veggie we ate almost every day that summer? Beets. I'd never eaten that many beets before (and I haven't eaten that many beets since!). We ate sides of steamed beets and grated raw beets to top our salads at lunch. There were roasted beets to accompany veggie burgers. Boiled beets were served with yogurt dill sauce. So many beets.
HOW TO SELECT + PREPARE BEETS
Beets are a root vegetable that have a sweet, earthy flavor. Red beets are the most common, but they can also be found in gold or white. They're loaded with fiber and are high in vitamin C and potassium.
Choose beets that are firm and smaller than a tennis ball in size. Look at the leaves too - they should look fresh and not withered.
To prepare them, cut off the leaves and set them aside. Wash the beets well, and cut off the ends.
Beets can turn hour hands pink, so you may want to wear gloves when cutting them. Beet skins are edible, so they can be cooked or grated right into a meal, but you can peel the beets first if you prefer.
EAT THE WHOLE BEET
Yes, you can eat the whole beet! Some people ask to have the beet greens chopped off at while at the farmers' market, but I like to keep them on to challenge myself to eat more veggies. Beet greens are delicious and nutritious, and a great way to use up the whole vegetable.
Try chopping up the leaves and stems and adding them to soups, stews, or crock pot dishes. They can be steamed or boiled and served with a bit of salt and pepper. They can be cooked into a frittata. Try them sautéed with some garlic and olive oil.
Or try them raw! Add some chopped beet greens to a salad or smoothie.
BEETS ARE EVEN BETTER WITH CHOCOLATE!
If you bake beets into a dessert, that is. If you're unsure about jumping on the beet train, these muffins are a great way to try them out. These chocolate beet muffins hide their earthy flavor, and are sweet naturally from the beets, honey, and plenty of chocolate.
And the result is a beautiful, bright pink muffin! Only the tops will be pink, but we all know that the muffin tops are the best part. Seinfeld, anyone?
CHOCOLATE BEET MUFFINS
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sunflower, safflower, or canola oil
1 cup dairy or non-dairy milk
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with cupcake liners.
Chop and boil beets until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain water and blend beets in blender or food processor until smooth or nearly smooth.
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients and add oil, egg, milk, honey, and 1 cup beet puree. Mix until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 22 minutes. The muffins are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.