SAY HELLO TO YOUR NEW FAVORITE SUPERFOOD by Olivia Mack McCool
Three ways to eat beets.
An effective way to get more vegetables in your diet is to make them the center of whatever you’re cooking. Beets don’t really have a problem being the center of attention given that their hot pink hue takes over just about any dish. With a color naturally that bright, you know it’s bound to be chock full of vitamins and nutrients – and beets are! They are a really good source of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and even iron. Not to mention they are available all winter long, are fairly inexpensive for their weight, and are extremely versatile. If your only experience with them is from a can or slivers of dried out raw beets from a salad bar, let me reintroduce you to your new favorite superfood.
Roasting beets is an easy, hands off way to cook a big batch that can be used in a variety of ways. My method is simple: Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and lay another foil sheet on top that is large enough to wrap around however many beets you are roasting. Trim off the stems and root tip of the beets and rinse them under water. Place the beets on the large piece of foil. Drizzle them with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of water. Wrap them up tightly and bake at 350° for anywhere between 45 minutes and 90 minutes: The cooking time will vary based on how large each beet is. They are done when you can easily pierce them with a small knife. Remove from the oven and let cool enough so you can handle them.
Once cooled, use your hands to slip off the skins. They should come off easily, but if not you can peel them with a small sharp knife. I like to do the whole peeling process right in my sink with the water running, making for easier clean up. Transfer the peeled roasted beets to a lidded container and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. This has become a weekly tradition for me, as my whole family, kids included, really love beets. Doing this ahead makes it much easier to throw them into salads, blitz them into a dip or dress them simply with oil and vinegar for a quick side.
My three best beet recipes follow: Beet & Quinoa Salad, Beet Dip, and Beet & Berries Smoothie. The salad is an ideal make-ahead lunch recipe. It keeps great in the refrigerator and is the perfect base to pile on healthy additions like hard boiled eggs, avocados, olives or greens. The dip is a showstopper worthy of a party but simple enough to eat all week long with crackers, chips or raw vegetables. And this smoothie will shake up your regular routine. The recipe calls for raw beets out of convenience, but you absolutely can use some of the beets you already roasted, which is a great choice if your blender isn’t particularly powerful.
Recipe developer, cookbook author, food stylist and local mom Olivia Mack McCool lives in Maplewood. For more of her work and recipes, check out her website
oliviamackmccool.com and follow along on Instagram @oliviamackmccool.
Beet & Quinoa Salad
Makes 6-8 servings
1 cup uncooked white quinoa
3-4 roasted beets (see above for instructions), cut into small cubes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup minced chives or scallions
¼ cup finely chopped dill, mint, parsley or cilantro
¼ cup pistachios, pine nuts or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Pour in the quinoa. Cover and immediately lower to a simmer. Cook for 17 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, cover again and let sit while you prep the rest of the salad.
Combine the chopped beets, olive oil, vinegar, chives and dill together in a large bowl. Season generously with salt. Toss well. Add the quinoa in and gently stir everything together. Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Makes about 2 cups
Notes: Labne is a very thick strained yogurt. You can find it in many grocery stores now. It’s delicious in so many ways and worth seeking out. Using a thick Greek yogurt will be fine for flavor but it may make the dip a tad bit runny. If you want to make your own “labne” from Greek yogurt you can put 1¼ cups full fat Greek yogurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
10 ounces roasted beets (2-3 beets)
1 cup labne (see notes for alternatives)
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
More olive oil
Well toasted sesame seeds
Combine the roasted beets, labne, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a blender. Blend until super smooth. Using a rubber spatula, scrape into a serving bowl and dress with olive oil, za’atar and toasted sesame seeds.
Beet & Berries Smoothie
Big handful of frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
1 small beet, scrubbed and thinly sliced
A few thin slices of ginger (optional)
½ cup yogurt, canned coconut milk, kefir or whole milk
A few ice cubes
A splash of water
ground flax seeds
the list goes on….
Combine everything in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy!