Underrated in America: Beets


My mom always loved beets, and, as a picky child, I disliked so many of her favorite dishes (yams with butter and tomato slices with mayonnaise spring to mind) that beets were only one more mystery of adulthood. Why? Would I, too, like beets one day? Impossible! I thought then and well into my twenties (after which I had turned onto tomatoes, mayonnaise, yams, and a raft of other foods the six-year-old me thought "yucky") that beets were just terrible.

I was not alone in my dislike of beets. 99.9% of people in the U.S. today have a loved one who hates beets. [Note: I made this statistic up. But it's true, I swear, my husband says they taste like mold and I'm a freakin' awesome chef.] Beets are probably the most-maligned vegetable out there. But as I have learned in my quest for local, seasonable deliciousness, beets are underrated for a number of reasons:

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  • Beets grow virtually year-round, so you can find them fresh in the middle of winter at your farmer's market.

  • Beets are pretty, cooked and sliced, and come in a variety of gorgeous colors so your salad looks like Chagall seen through a kaleidoscope.

  • Beets are easy to grow in the garden, so you can save major cash on your veggies.

  • Beets are really good for you.

  • Beets are a snap to cook (and no peeling!). Cut off the tops, stick 'em in a crock with a little water, put 'em in the oven and wait an hour. Slide the skins off, slice, eat.

  • Beets taste great with goat cheese. I love excuses to eat more goat cheese.

  • Beets are economical; you can eat the root and the greens.

  • Beets are an essential ingredient to borscht, which is delicious.

  • Beets are trendy!

Beets will always be hated by the vocal majority. But that's no reason you have to hate them, too. Just try to resist a plateful of reds, oranges, and golds, sprinkled with chevre, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar... I'll be eating beets while the rest of you are ordering tasteless salads with romaine trucked in from California and mealy, watery tomatoes shipped up from Chile, and I'll be smirking a bit.