My sister and I were taking a break at my house a few weeks ago, watching one of Nigella Lawson’s cooking shows. She was wearing white, from bottom to top, and had white gloves on. Very elegant. Then she picked up a red beet.

Beets are beautiful ... and messy. I have dyed my cutting boards beet red quite a few times dicing and slicing this root vegetable. We watched in awe as she worked with the bright red veggie without staining her clothing.

Inspired by that show and the fact that beets are showing up in CSA (community-supported agriculture) share boxes, I asked my sister if she or her husband knew of any good beet recipes. Shari responded, “Well, John’s co-workers like pickled beets. But he won’t eat them.”

What about simply roasted beets?

“He won’t eat them.”

Beetroot pasta?

“He won’t eat them.”

Beet brownies?

“He won’t...”

Ok, fine.

I’ll find some other unsuspecting, uh, tasters.

Luckily, I work in a place where just about any food is welcome, especially if it’s homemade.

The 30-Minute Risotto-Style Beetroot Pasta was divvied up by three co-workers as it left the photo studio. Wasn’t even offered up to the room.

The pasta was fun and easy to prepare (and really quick ... and tasty). The recipe calls for chicken broth, but I made it with vegetable stock since there are a couple of vegetarians in the office.

The brownies, I left on a communal shelf without mentioning the secret ingredient. They were gone, and pan cleaned and returned to me the following morning.

So, although my brother-in-law won’t eat them, a lot of folks really like beets.

30-Minute Risotto-Style Beetroot Pasta

  • 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium beets, small dices
  • 1/2 pound short spiral pasta, uncooked
  • 2 sprigs parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn heat to low to keep the broth hot.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it starts to brown.

Add the diced beet and pasta to the skillet and cook while stirring until the pasta starts to look toasty (about 5 minutes).

Add 1 cup of the hot broth to the pasta mixture and stir constantly. Wait until almost all of the broth is absorbed before adding more broth, one cup at a time. Cook until pasta is tender but still firm (about 10-15 minutes). There might be some leftover broth.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, chopped parsley, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Beet Brownies

  • 1/2 pound fresh beets, scrubbed
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for buttering parchment paper
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped or chips
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar

Place beets in a saucepan and add water to cover by 1/2-inch. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-35 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to an ice bath until cool. Transfer cool beets to a food processor and pulse until minced.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9-by-9-inch brownie pan with parchment paper, lightly coat with butter.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs for about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and brown sugar, mix on medium high until light and airy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed and add minced beets, then slowly add melted chocolate and mix until just combined. Slowly add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow brownies to cool before cutting and serving.

Makes 16-25 brownies (depending on how you cut the pan).

Shaved Golden Beet, Carrot and Radish Salad

For dressing:

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

For shaved salad:

  • 4 small golden beets, peeled
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut in two
  • 1 small bunch of radishes, trimmed and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl

Thinly slice the beets, carrot and radishes on a mandolin or in a food processor with the slicing disc.

Toss the sliced vegetables with the dressing to coat evenly. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Tips for handling beets

— Beet juice can stain the skin, so wear kitchen gloves when handling the vegetables. Lemon juice can remove beet stains.

— To minimize beet bleeding, wash beets gently under cool running water.

— If you are roasting or boiling beets, it’s best to peel them after cooking. The skins can be removed with a damp cloth.

— Adding 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 8 cups of water when boiling will keep beet color bright.

— Beet greens, as well as the raw beet root, can be used in salads

Beets five easy ways

Boil: Wash and leave 1 inch of stalk and root on beets. Place whole beets in large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar per 1/2 gallon of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 to 60 minutes until done. Remove from heat and cool. Cut off stems and root and rub off skins. Serve sliced or mashed with butter, salt and pepper.

Oven roast: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash, peel and quarter beets. Arrange pieces on a baking sheet, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat with oil. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender.

Bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and leave 1 inch of stalk and root on beets. Wrap beets with two layers of aluminum foil. Place foil package on baking sheet and cook for one hour or until tender. When done, remove from foil, trim off stalk and root and rub skins off with damp towel.

Steam: Prepare as if boiling then place in a steamer over boiling water. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and plunge into cold water then remove skins with damp towel.

Microwave: Wash, peel and cube beets. Arrange cubes on a glass microwavable dish, add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid and cook on high for 5 minutes, stir, then heat for 3 minutes or until fork tender.

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