We Got the Beets

By: Liz Gray

As winter vegetables go, beets are pretty much as controversial as you get.  You don't hear people debating the virtues of the potato or the butternut squash, but most people either love or hate these sweet, earthy root vegetables.

I've been in the former group almost from the time I was in the womb, but if you're still leery of these roots, these unexpected recipes from Cooking Channel chefs and bloggers around the Web (beet gnocchi and beet-chocolate cake, anyone?) might just change your mind.

Beet Salads: Raw and Roasted

Roasting beets intensifies their sweetness, so they pair perfectly with a tart vinaigrette, creamy goat cheese and slightly bitter mixed greens.  (Try Kelsey's classic Roasted Beet Salad.)

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

Kelsey Nixon's Roasted Beet Salad

Photo by: Kelsey Nixon ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Kelsey Nixon, 2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

No time for roasting? Like carrots, beets are crunchy and sweet when raw, and retain more of their earthy flavor. This shredded beet salad from The New York Times' Recipes For Health series is dressed with a simple orange-lemon mix.  If you don't think you like beets, try them this way!

Beets Plus Grains

Beets add sweet flavor (and amazing color) to grains of all sorts. David Rocco uses pureed roasted beets as the not-so-secret ingredient in his risotto. The rice absorbs the beet liquid as it cooks, taking in lots of flavor and a magenta hue.

For a little healthier take on the same theme, roast beets with the skin on and mix with quinoa, onion and toasted walnuts, like alla Poppy does here. And don't forget the greens -- saute them alongside like you would chard or spinach.

Beet-Red Pastas

There's no denying that fresh pasta is amazing, so it only stands to reason that beets + fresh pasta would yield a product that's twice as amazing: something strikingly beautiful, sweet and tender. Try your hand at these beet gnocchi (adorable! pink! delicious!) from IronStef or vegan beet pasta from Annie at Sensible Living (she uses the pasta to make vegan lasagna.)

Beets For Dessert

A beet dessert might sound counter-intuitive, but the veggie's natural sugars make it the perfect base for a sweet ending. If you find yourself with a surplus of these gems (it takes about 2 pounds), try out Thomas Keller's famous Beet Ice Cream ( as interpreted by the Daley Dish.)

And don't forget the cake...chocolate and beet, perhaps?  The combination might sound odd, but as explained over at Canelle et Vanille, the sweet earthiness of the beets pairs perfectly with rich, dark chocolate.  And, they're gluten-free to boot!

Beets: Love 'em or hate 'em? How do you eat them?
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