Full disclosure. Today, we are going to embark on a hot topic. Something that often makes people uncomfortable and in some circles, may even be deemed controversial.
Sigh. I said it.
Those round, oddly-shaped little buggers that give many eaters – healthy, adventurous, curious, and beyond – major pause. They look strange. They seem like they’d be difficult to peel – if that is even how you are supposed to prepare them. And when it comes to actually cutting into the tubers, well you better prepare for a blood bath. Those suckers will happily dye everything around you a deep shade of red.
So when it comes to choosing a vegetable to cook, beets are rarely at the top of my list. I’d much rather leave them underground where they won’t stain my pre-labor-day-legal white pants. I’d rather cut up a more well behaved radish instead.
But let’s pause for a moment. Because when it comes to successful low sodium cooking, one must be adventurous, braving new ingredients – whether it is a spice, an herb, a vegetable, or a cooking technique – that you have never tried before. It is about surprising your palate. Or even more importantly, it is about surprising yourself.
So let’s get back to those beets. Let’s give them the second look they deserve.
Many people seem to love them; their juice is used in a lot of commercial products (including red velvet cake and even ketchup); and it is even said to be a natural aphrodisiac. It seems, upon further investigation, that beets are meant to be loved. And eaten. And eaten with love.
There are many ways to accomplish this.
Throw them in a salad:
Make them into a burger:
Or a carpaccio tower with some avocado:
Or even those little potato, carrot, beet hash cakes you see above. Recipe below.
But before you totally dive into to the world of beets, here are a few more tips:
One – If you are wearing something you love, put on an apron. Or better yet, cook in the nude. Or maybe just throw on some old t-shirt that is already covered in slobber or paint.
Two – If you are using the beets in their raw form (like in a salad or for pickles), peel off their skin by holding the beet in your left (or not dominant) hand while scraping the peeler (right thumb on top) toward you. This makes the whole process a lot easier. You’ll see.
Three – If you are cooking the beets, wrap them in tin foil before you throw them in the oven. After they have cooked, allow them to cool and then use the tinfoil to rub off the skin. This keeps the juicy mess to a major minimum.
Four – A single beet can contain upwards of 64mg of sodium. Seriously. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them. Just be aware. And feel free to use beets in dishes that you want to taste a little more “salty.” It is a natural way to enhance flavor and that’s why they work so well for pickles.
Five – Your pee will most likely be red after eating them. I’m not joking. It’s called beeturia. Look it up.
With that, rock out to some fresh beets with any of the recipes in this post and discover the new world of color, texture, and taste at your low sodium (and now red) fingertips.
BEET CARROT HASH CAKES
- 2 cups peeled and grated carrots
- 3/4 cups peeled and grated beets
- 1/4 cup peeled and grated potatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 eggs
- Safflower or canola oil for frying
Quick note about prepping the veggies: feel free to use a hand grater or, for faster prep, use a food processor with a grater attachment. Either will work well. And before cooking them, put the grated veggies into a paper or cloth towel and squeeze over the sink, forcing out the liquid.
1. Place the carrots, beets, potatoes, pepper, and flour into a mixing bowl. With your hands, combine all the ingredients. Crack both eggs into the bowl and mix again until everything is well combined. Wash your hands and set aside.
2. Heat a frying pan and 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high flame. When spitting hot, form the carrot, beet, potato mixture into a palm-sized pancake and place in the oil. Add a few more pancake patties to the pan so long as it does not get over crowded. Allow them to cook about 8 minutes on one side, or until a nice crust forms. Flip and cook on the other side. Remove patties to a cooling rack or a plate covered with a paper towel, and continue cooking the carrot, beet, potato cakes until the mixture is gone. Add extra oil to the pan if needed.
3. Serve immediately and offer guests either some crème fraiche, greek yogurt, or a light dressing made of white wine vinegar, pepper, and dill.