These healthy, easy marinated beets are like candy, once you try them you won't be able to get enough!
These easy marinated beets are a perfect example of the crazy way recipes sometimes come to fruition here at The Cafe.
I've always thought beets were just "so-so", I definitely didn't love them. Until recently that is...
"Beets?", I thought to myself as I saw them as a side option at a wonderful restaurant here in Raleigh. I had met my son Nick for a "date", during his lunch hour one day this past fall. "Their beets are amazing!", Nick said as he perused the menu. I was intrigued, but - not enough to order them.
Nick did order a side of beets to go with his sandwich. When our food arrived, I check out his pile of pretty beets. They didn't look like anything out of the ordinary, just beets. "Try these!", Nick said. I speared a little piece with my fork. Not expecting anything out of the ordinary, I popped the crimson wedge into my mouth.
Oh, my goodness! It was bursting with bright flavor and surprisingly delicious! Who knew beets could be this wonderful? I wished that I had been the one to order the beets that day, but had to be happy just sampling a few of Nick's. I did make a mental note though, to pick up beets next time I shopped.
Since my date with Nick, I've had beets on the brain. I've noticed beets on a number of other restaurant menus and have been dabbling with some beet recipes myself, trying to re-create that delicious, fresh flavor. After doing a bit of research, I decided to go with an uncomplicated technique from one of my favorite chef/cookbook authors, Alice Waters.
The raw, unpeeled beets are placed in a baking dish with a small amount of water, covered tightly and baked at 425˚F for approximately one hour, until nice and tender. (Roasting beets, in lieu of boiling, intensifies the flavor and preserves the beautiful color.) After cooling, the beets are easy to peel by simply rubbing them gently with a paper towel - the skins slip right off. The finishing touches are quick and easy; cut the shiny spheres in wedges, splash with your favorite vinegar and season with salt and pepper. A 30 minute (or longer) rest time is essential at this point to allow the vinegar to brighten and accentuate the flavor.
When ready to serve, drizzle these Easy Marinated Beets lightly with olive oil. That's it; according to Alice's technique. They're perfect just like this, although I like to add a shower of finely chopped fresh herbs. I happened to have rosemary on hand this time, but thyme, dill, mint or tarragon are also delicious.
Beets come in a variety of hues (pink, white, even two-toned) but the ones you see in most markets are the red and golden varieties. Either will work well with this Easy Marinated Beets recipe, although I'm somewhat partial to golden beets. They're a gorgeous color and make a lovely presentation in a salad or as a side. They also tend to be a little sweeter and have a mellower flavor than red beets. An added bonus is; they don't add a crimson stain to hands and transfer their color to foods they touch, like red beets do.
These easy marinated beets are delicious paired with sandwiches as well as in salads. They are delightful when combined with oranges, fennel, goat cheese, Feta cheese and just about any fresh herb. I'm thinking of adding them to this Arugula-Orange Salad next time I make it.
Because of their dense texture and sweet flavor, beets go nicely with entrees like pork, beef brisket, duck, ham, roasted chicken, salmon and swordfish.
Health benefits of beets
One last word about beets: they're not only delicious, but also super beneficial nutritionally! Beets are low in calories and loaded with essential everyday nutrients. They also have amazing health-boosting qualities. Here's the rundown:
- Beets are high in B vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium.
- They're also rich in nitrates which promote good circulation and can help lower blood pressure.
- Beets are rich in manganese which has an important role in calcium absorption, carbohydrate and fat metabolism and blood sugar regulation. Eating manganese-rich foods such as beets ensures your brain and nerves function at optimal levels.
- Studies have shown that beets can help ward off numerous chronic diseases because they are a good source of betaine. Betaine plays a vital role in cellular reproduction and liver function.
- Studies have been done showing that eating beets may enhance athletic performance by improving oxygen use and time to exhaustion.
- Beets are a good source of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health. Beet fiber also helps to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides by increasing the level of HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Studies have revealed that beets can help prevent skin, lung, and colon cancer since they contain the pigment betacyanins, which counteracts cancerous cell growth.
- Beets are a great source of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system and helps our bodies defend against viral and bacterial infections.
The health information above was gleaned from several different sites: Healthline, Health Magazine, Organic Facts, Livestrong and Medical News Today.
Do you think beets are just "so-so"? It might be time to re-visit this often overlooked root veggie. You may be like me and find yourself loving them, after trying these Easy Marinated Beets. Make a double batch, because they'll keep well for at least 4-5 days and you'll love having them all set for salads and sides. But don't be surprised if they get snitched (like candy) while you're not looking!
Café Tips for making Alice Water's Easy Marinated Beets
- The larger the beets, the longer they will take to become tender in the oven. That's why it's a good idea to look for beets of similar size for this recipe so they all get done at approximately the same time. If you find bunches of beets that are different sizes, no worries. Just check them after 45 minutes in the oven. Pierce them with a small, sharp knife to determine if they're tender and remove the smaller ones first. Let the larger ones bake for another 5-20 minutes, depending on the size. I usually check them every 5 minutes after 45 minutes.
- There are lots of different types of beets; some of them are beyond gorgeous like the striped heirloom-type beets (Chioggia). Any variety of beets will work in this recipe, although the striped ones will lose some of their vibrancy in the oven. I love golden beets, they're easy to find, sweet and not as "earthy" tasting as red beets.
- I used white balsamic vinegar in this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite. White wine vinegar, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar... all of these will be delicious!
- Regular balsamic vinegar would also be delicious, but the results won't be as pretty as the dark vinegar will cover the vibrant color of the beets, especially the golden variety.
- Once roasted, the beet skins will slip off easily. Use a paper towel to gently rub them off. The slight abrasion works perfectly!
- I love to add these easy marinated beets to salads and to serve them on their own, as a side. They also can be crushed slightly (with the bottom of a glass), then sauteed in a bit of olive oil until golden and crisp - super delicious!
- What to look for when buying beets? Choose beets that are heavy for their size with green tops still attached whenever possible.
- You'll find a lot of Café recipes calling for "freshly ground black pepper". Pepper freshly ground adds a wonderful finishing touch to so many dishes. There's a huge difference between ground pepper and fresh ground pepper. Do a "sniff test" to see what I mean. Grind a small amount of pepper onto a paper towel. Sprinkle another paper towel with pre-ground pepper. Take a sniff of each one. See what I mean? There's such a wonderful aroma from the fresh ground pepper. There are lots of great pepper grinders out there. One of my favorites is this (surprisingly) reasonably-priced, highly-rated iBunny Premium Stainless Steel Electric Pepper Grinder. You just push the button on the top and it does all the grinding! It even has a little light on the bottom so you can see exactly what you're doing.
- If you're desiring to incorporate more healthy veggies, like these Alice Water's Easy Marinated Beets, into your diet, but you're not sure how to put that into action, Alice Water's book Chez Panisse Vegetables is wonderful. It's loaded with delicious recipes; with an entire chapter per vegetable. I always know that Alice Water's recipes will be delicious and successful.
Still time to fill out the Café Reader's Survey 2018!
P.S. We really appreciate all of you who have filled out our Café Reader's Survey 2018. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comments, your suggestions for future posts/recipes and your constructive criticism. We appreciate all of it - the information is so valuable as we plan for 2018. If you haven't had the time, or this is the first you're hearing about the survey, it's not too late! And it will take less than 5 minutes of your time. Thanks!
- 1 ½ pounds golden beets about 7-8 medium-size beets
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or your favorite vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt more, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper more, to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary thyme, dill, mint, chives or tarragon would also be delicious!
Preheat oven to 425˚F.
Remove the tops of the beets, leaving about ½ inch of the stem. Wash the beets thoroughly and place them in a baking dish; they will fit in without crowding. Add ½ cup of water and cover tightly with foil.
Bake for 45 to 1 hour, until the beets can be easily pierced with a sharp knife. If the beets are not all the same size, some may take longer. Remove from oven, uncover carefully (steam will be hot!) and allow to cool.
Cut off the tops and bottom tails of the beets. Rub the peel gently with a dry paper towel to remove. The skin (peel) should slip right off.
Cut beets in half, then in quarters or eighths, depending on size. Sprinkle with vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Stir gently. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the beets to absorb the vinegar.
Just before serving, taste and add a pinch of sugar if you note any bitterness. Stir gently. Season with a bit more salt and pepper if needed, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle herbs over the top.
See Café Tips above for more detailed instructions and tips.
Do you serve the left over beets chilled or is it better to reheat? Thank you!
Chris Scheuer says
Hi Barb, they're actually good either way!
Sandra L Garth says
I've had red beets once when I was a little girl and they were very bland. Your glowing review has me wanting to try them again.
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
I'm drooling just looking at your photos of these beets Chris! They sound delicious! Need to try!
I have some red beets that I bottled a couple of years ago. I used nothing except a pinch of salt when I canned them. If I drained the beets well and then let them sit in the marinade for maybe an hour, would this work? If the beets are roasted and mine bottled, would the results be sort of the same? Would I need to roast them for a short time to get the caramelization going? Any help would be so appreciated.
Chris Scheuer says
Hi Jenni, I think you could definitely try this with your beets. I think the flavor would be very nice, maybe not quite the same but still delicious. I don't think you would need to roast your beets. Just give them enough time to soak in the vinegar and then sprinkle with some fresh herbs. Let us know how they turn out!
sue | theviewfromgreatisland says
Just shared this bowl of sunshine on facebook!
Maureen Rogers says
I love beets! I might try the farmers' market next Saturday. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers says
I have to admit, I'm probably in the "I'm not sure I love beets" camp, but you've definitely inspired me to try them this way! I'm sure I will love them, too 🙂
I save the greens and either sauté them with olive oil, garlic and sea salt (like chard) or save them (in my freezer veggie scrap bag) for my homemade veggie stock. Love beets!
Chris Scheuer says
That's a wonderful idea, Mary!
I grew up eating beets as my parents always grew them in their large garden. There were a side for many a family dinner. When I first read about roasting beets (like Ina or Martha) it was a game changer for me. I have boiled a beet in years 🙂 This simple, tangy preparation of yours sounds wonderful, Chris!
Since my sister was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, I have also discovered that beets are a dopamine superfood. When you have Parkinson's your brain stops making dopamine. Thanks for the recipe, I can't wait to try it!
Chris Scheuer says
Wow, so interesting! I had no idea!
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
Haven't seen the golden beets in our market yet..this looks fantastic and a perfect dish to start the year!
I just love this font too. As a calligrapher, I abhor the loss of cursive...not being taught in the schools anymore! Are we to become a nation of printers? Only able to "sign" our names with an "X"? Your site is lovely and so full of delicious food...again...homemade and not bowing down to the convenient, fast, preservative-laced stuff pushed by most food chains today. Champion the fresh, home-grown, farmers market offerings...keep us healthy and well. Thanks.
Chris Scheuer says
Thanks, Vivian, how cool, a calligrapher! I so admire that. Handwriting is becoming a lost art, for sure. And that is so sad.
Thanks for your kind, encouraging words, what a thoughtful comment!
Vicki Bensinger says
I love beets and always have a batch made in the house ready to peel and use for so many things. They’re so flavorful and good for you it just makes sense to have them around. I find the golden beets to be sweeter than the red but enjoy both equally.
Ginny Hartzler says
I will so this pepper smell test! And now I know the difference between the red and the yellow beets. amazing that such a wonderful flavor can be acheived with so little!
I've always loved beets. My mom grew them in our garden (the soil in Iowa was incredible!) and made some amazing pickled beets. I'll eat them any which way and your recipe is the perfect excuse to add them to my shopping list!
My wife and I are beet lovers, so we will try this. We canout 100 pounds every year and now juice about another 30 very good for you. I roast them and they are like candy, can't stop eating them until they are all gone. Will have to try to find some gold ones. Dam voles ate all our beets this year. We will get in touch with our veggie guy and see if he can get yellow beets. Thanks for the recipe.
Wayne & Mona
Chris Scheuer says
Wow, you are beet experts Wayne! Wish I was your neighbor with all those good canned beets and juice!
dorothy schwarz says
A friend of mine sent me as a gift a jar of pickled golden beets. I so coveted them wouldn't let any one else have even one. I hope I can find golden beets in my neck of the woods. Would love to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year.
P.S. I love the font you use for comments. Looks like a handwritten note.
Chris Scheuer says
I think you'll love these Dorothy! Happy New Year to you too, hope it's a wonderful year!
Thanks regarding the font too 🙂
I love them..my mom always made pickled beets..always red:) I don't think I ever saw yellow beets growing up!
I love roasted beet salads..I love all the colors..love it all:)
Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert says
We love marinated beets and these look and sound outstanding. I love being inspired to try new recipes and often my family help me too. My husband could eat his weight in these - always a favorite!