I must admit, you either like the taste of beets, or you don't. My kids love them and even occasionally fight over the last one, especially the golden beets. My husband on the other hand, thinks that they taste like dirt. He eats them begrudgingly but the whole time all he can think about is soil. My neighbor has the same sensation, this weekend when I was weeding the row of "Bull's blood" red beets, beautiful dark red beets with red leaves, he decided to take one home and sauté it tops and all as I recommend in olive oil and butter. It was a no-go for him too. Though he was willing to try again, he still thinks they taste like dirt. For the rest of us that think they are divine, roasted, pickled, sautéed this post is for you!
First rule of garden fresh beets is to eat the tops! They are so good for you packed with nutrition. Beet greens carry more minerals, vitamins, and fiber than beet root (except for the folate vitamin). Some health benefits of these vitamin rich foods include, cancer fighting anti-oxidants. According the Livestrong.org web site "Beet roots are a good source of folate, with 17 percent of the daily value, and manganese, with 14 percent of the DV in each 1/2-cup serving. Beet greens provide even more essential vitamins and minerals, with each 1/2-cup serving providing 19 percent of the DV for potassium and manganese, 12 percent of the DV for magnesium, 12 percent of the DV for riboflavin, 30 percent of the DV for vitamin C, 110 percent of the DV for vitamin A and 436 percent of the DV for vitamin K. Folate and magnesium are essential for forming DNA, and you need manganese for processing cholesterol. Potassium helps control your blood pressure, riboflavin helps with nervous system function and vitamin C helps with collagen formation. Vitamin A is necessary for proper vision, and vitamin K is important for blood clotting." Livestrong.org also mentions a study done about the benefit to runners; "A study published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" found that runners who increased their nitrate consumption by consuming beets before a run may run faster and feel less exertion during their run compared to those who consumed the same amount of calories from cranberry relish, which was used as a placebo."
Beet greens can be sautéed as mentioned above, but they can also be eaten raw. At the baby beet size, chop up the fresh tender greens and add them to your salad mix. My personal favorite is eating the baby greens mixed in with baby Swiss Chard (beets and chard are in the same family), at this stage they are perfectly tender and mild. Why not combine roasted beets with the greens in a tasty and hearty salad. This recipe from the Food Network is a good one, the pistachios add some protein (as well as additional health benefits!) and is hearty enough to be a meal : https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/katie-lee/roasted-beet-and-beet-green-salad-with-warm-pistachio-salsa-verde-5580090
I often roast a whole chicken with root vegetables. It feels like an elaborate Sunday evening meal but it's actually very easy for a weeknight and there isn't a whole lot of clean up because everything is cooked in one roasting pan. My pan has a rack and I arrange the chicken over the veggies so that the drippings from the chicken coat the root vegetables giving them a delicious rich flavor. Beets taste especially delicious roasted this way. You can throw a few extra in to eat diced on a salad the next day.
Kale is a great partner for the leftover roasted beets. The heartiness of the kale leaves really stands up to the meaty roasted beets. Here is an excellent recipe that pairs the two together: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/232590/roasted-beet-and-kale-salad/ In the fall I also like to add leftover cubed roasted butternut squash to a kale and beet salad, it looks beautiful in the bowl and the squash add a nice sweetness.
I did a little survey on Instagram about how folks feel about beets and one person mentioned that they don't particularly like beets but they eat them in smoothies. Since we are at the tail end of strawberry season, you can take those extra berries that are quickly becoming too soft cut the tops off and throw the in the freezer to use in a strawberry beet smoothie. Bonus: The beets really amp up the color of the strawberry smoothie.
Strawberry Beet Smoothie
1/2 cup chopped raw beets (peeled)
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup almond milk
Juice of 1/2 lemon
fresh ginger (peeled)
1 tbsp flax seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and purée until smooth.
Still not sure how to enjoy beets and beet greens? Bon Appetite Magazine has an excellent post that includes all of their best beet recipes. Everything from a Pickled Beet Vinaigrette to Heartbeet Chocolate Cake! https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/roast-em-fry-em-grate-em-38-ways-cook-eat-beets
The great thing about beets is the growing season is long(Spring through late Autumn), they are packed with so much nutritional benefit and there are so many excellent ways to add them to your meals. Beets just can't be beat.