Beets were one of those foods growing up that I avoided like the plague. Their bloody red color threw me off, reminding me of scary horror movies and for some reason, like something only old people would eat. It wasn’t until very, very recently that I ventured into trying beets and I was surprised to find I didn’t just LIKE them, I LOVED them. They’re a great sweet, earthy touch to a salad, and I actually had them on their own as a snack a few days ago. My new love of beets is another thing living in the grand old state of California has given me; I had never tried an artichoke until I was 21 years old and my then boyfriend (now husband)’s mother made one for me. I had also never tried mango, another passionate produce love affair of mine.
Because I love flexing my green thumb, I decided to grow beets this year and ended up with a surplus of candy cane beets and the most GIGANTIC red beets I have ever seen in my life. This thing could easily take out a window or a small child. I mean, HOLY BEETS! How did it get that big? Beets me! (Oh, I’ve been dying to say that one!) Anyhoo, while beets are amazing on their own, if you want to amp up the flavor, it’s super easy, cheap and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. If you feel like being ever lazier and avoiding the parboil/peel/boil process of cooking the beets, buy them pre-steamed and packaged at Trader Joes and follow only the pickling instructions.
All you need is..
– one jar or resealable tupperware container
– a bunch of beets,
– 1 cup vinegar (I recommend red wine or white)
– 1 tbsp sugar
-1 tbsp diced/minced or crushed garlic (less if you’re a vampire or still have tastebuds)
– some fresh cracked pepper and some sea salt.
1) The first thing you’re going to do is boil the beets, skin and all, for about 2 minutes. Don’t stress about it, this isn’t the important part. You just want to get them nice and hot so the skin peels off easily.
2) Once they’ve boiled for a few minutes, take them out of the pot and LET THEM COOL. Do not touch them now because I promise, your hands will burn like marshmallows and you’ll never read my blog again because I’ll be known as the girl that burned you with beets. I speak from experience.
3) Did you wait a few minutes to cool? Good. Now start peeling. This process is messy. If you’re using red beets, you’re going to have murder hands. Just accept it now.
4) Once everything is peeled, hack ’em into whatever size slice you like. These were bigger than I usually like but again, that beet was the size of an asteroid. What was I supposed to do?
5) Throw ’em back into a pot of boiling water. Cook them until fork tender. A little bit al dente is fine if you like more crunch. Do not overcook or you’ll have some nasty looking beets to eat (they turn gray). I’d say these, though quite thick, needed 5-7 minutes.
6) Drain the beets.
7) Put all of the ingredients except the beets into the jar or container. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Crack in pepper to taste and a few shakes of salt.
8) Start layering in the beet slices. Seal the jar and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes they’re ready to eat! If you want them to be really strong, let marinate over night. These beets will last in your fridge for up to one week and are amazing with some vine ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzerella over a bed of greens.
This recipe is awesome because it’s super customizable. Maybe you could try using a sweet onion instead of garlic, or adding some rosemary sprigs. I bet rice wine vinegar would make an interesting base, or imagine it with mint leaves. Beets really are in their prime in salads. Try beets with a crumble of feta, or chopped Cobb style. Did you know people ever use beet syrup as a natural sweetener? Beets have one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable, but their glycemic index is lower so they don’t cause the same insulin spikes in the body as table sugar. So, what do you think? Are you a ‘beet’nik like I am or are you anti-beets?