Back in Brooklyn, the Beet Goes On…

HUMBOLDT STREET, Brooklyn: It is now the season for roots. I did not harvest any of my own beets this year. Though the leaves grace my garden, even through the snow, I did not thin the baby plants far enough away from each other (over the summer) so the roots never filled out. The beets pictured here were grown on a farm not too far away from the city, upstate.

The pigment betanin gives beets their deep red color. To reduce “bleeding” I have learned to not cut of peel the root before cooking. The red will stain hands and surfaces, so be ready for a mess. If your beets have greens, cut to about a 1″ stem. Depending on the time of year (the earlier the better) you can add the greens to a salad or cook like collards. Later in the season the leaves become tougher and more bitter and may be better for the compost, this will probably be the case if you are getting them from the farmers market, because the greens tend to get “beat up.” Ha. The following instructions are for roasting beets, which is a preferable method to boiling which drains them of color and flavor. Be forewarned, roasting takes a while.

BEETS WITH DILL: Good hot as a side, or cold as a salad.

6 – 8 small beets

1/2 red onion

1 teaspoon sugar


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1/2 a lime

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Fill a pan with 1″ of water, make sure the beets are cozy (the pan shouldn’t be too big.) It should look something like this, with the beet stems trimmed:

It’s better if they are all about the same size. Cover with aluminum foil and put in oven set at 375 to roast. Check on ’em every once in a while, and add a little water if you notice the level has fallen below the original 1″. The time will vary depending on the size of beets, these took an hour.  Large beets can take up to 2 hours, you can test with a fork kinda like potatoes.

As soon as you can bear to handle them, start peeling. Supposedly the skin should just “slip” off, but these took a bit of work. Look how red that water is! It made me want to dye some wool! If I had any…

After the skin is removed, cut the beets into bite sized pieces and remove the stems. This is where it can get messy.

Put all these beautifully bloody warm beet chunks into a bowl and toss gently with onion, and everything else… olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt to taste, lime, and finally dill. Your beets have been dressed! If you are not adverse to dairy: I served mine with mac and cheese, but an alternatively more delicious and expensive presentation involves sprinkling with goat cheese crumbles. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Another scrumptious and equally expensive addition is pan seared pine nuts.

The inky aftermath delighted me. Humor me on this one, I went to art school after all.

It’s late, I hope I’m not forgetting anything important. Good luck in the kitchen – whatever happens, the beet goes on!



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