Cooking with Beets

HOUSTON – Chef Will Springfield, from Your Private Chef and Food Tours of Houston, shares some tasty recipes inspired by beets.

Salad of Beets Watermelon Blue Cheese Radish Figs Micro Greens Toasted Hazelnuts with Raspberry Sauce & Balsamic Glaze


1.5 lb med sized beets (see recipe below)

Small seedless watermelon 

4-5 figs

2-3 heirloom radishes 

Firm mild blue cheese of choice

Micro greens 

Balsamic glaze

Raspberry sauce (see recipe below)

Toasted peeled hazelnuts


Mint leaves 



Cooking the beets:

Mix 4 cups water with 1 cup apple cider vinegar

Add the peel of small orange (no pith), 2 whole star anise, 4 whole cloves, small knob of ginger, 8 black peppercorns, 1/4 cup sugar, tsp salt

Add 1 to 1 1/2 pounds washed lightly scrubbed beets, not peeled, root intact, leave leaf steams 2” ling

Bring the beets to a steady simmer in a medium saucepan and cook, partially covered, until they are tender, 35 to 50 minutes. Remove the beets from the poaching liquid and let them cool long enough to handle. Peel the beets by rubbing with a paper towel

Raspberry Sauce:


1 pint fresh raspberries

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup cold water


Combine the raspberries, sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan. 

Whisk the cornstarch into the cold water until smooth. Add the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the desired consistency is reached. The sauce will thicken further as it cools.

Puree the sauce in a blender or with a handheld immersion blender and strain it through a fine sieve. Serve warm or cold. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Salad prep:

Cut watermelon into lg 1/2” thick triangles

Cut beets into 1/2” rounds

Slice figs in half

Cut blue cheese into 3/4” cubes

Slice radish thin with a mandoline slicer 

Toast hazelnuts, smash slightly


Place all beets, watermelon, figs, cheese decoratively on a white platter 

Decorate with radish, micro greens, hazelnut pieces, raspberries, mint, dill

Paint plate with dots of balsamic glaze and dragged spoon full of raspberry sauce


Chilled Watermelon and Beet Soup


2 Cups seedless watermelon 

1 Cup cooked beets (peeled and diced)

1/4 cp OJ concentrate orange juice

1 tsp minced ginger

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 Cup cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Relish Garnish:

Relish of beets, watermelon, mango

Chiffonade of basil & mint

Sour cream


Cooking the beets:

Wash beets by scrubbing with a vegetable brush

Remove tops/bottom & cut in half

Place on baking sheet treated with cooking spray

Lightly salt and pepper 

Cover it with foil and slowly bake it in the oven at 300 degrees for 1hr or until pierced easily with a knife 

Let cool remove skin by rubbing with paper towel

Note - beets will stain so you might want to wear plastic gloves & an apron


Puree all ingredients in a blender

Adjust salt and black pepper

Refrigerate well or chill quickly in freezer 


Pour gazpacho into chilled parfait glasses 

Add chuncks of watermelon and beets to the soup

Garnish with sour cream, relish, chiffonade of basil & mint 


Cooking with Beets

Beets are marketed in a range of sizes. Early-crop beets are usually sold in bunches with the tops attached. Small, young beets (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) are pleasingly tender and cook in less time than larger ones. Their fine texture is also an asset if you intend to use them raw in a salad.

Medium-sized beets are fine for most cooking purposes, though larger varieties over 2 1/2 inches in diameter may be tough, with unpalatable woody cores.

Look for smooth, hard, round beets. The surface should be unbruised and free of cuts. Avoid beets with soft, moist spots or shriveled, flabby skin. The taproot, which extends from the bulbous part of the beet, should be slender. When choosing your beets, pick equal-sized ones so that they will cook evenly.

If the leaves are attached, they should be small, crisp, and dark green. If the beets have their leaves removed, be sure that at least a 1/2 inch of the stems and 2 inches of the taproot remain, or the color will bleed from the beets as they cook.

How to store beets 

Beets can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. To reduce moisture loss from beet roots, cut off the beet greens before storing. Leave at least an inch of the stem attached. Do not wash beets before storing.

Baby beets stay fresh best with their greens intact, so don’t remove the greens from tiny bee

Be gentle when washing beets. You want the thin skin to remain intact for cooking.

Although beets can be eaten raw, they are generally boiled, baked, steamed, fried, grilled or otherwise cooked before eating.

Choose beets of uniform size to promote even cooking.

To retain nutrients and color, boil, bake or steam without peeling first. The skin will easily rub off under cold running water after they are cooked.

When trimming, leave at least an inch of the leaf stems attached and do not remove the root. The stem and root are removed after cooking.

If you must peel before cooking, a swivel vegetable peeler works better than a paring knife.

For best flavor, bake beets instead of boiling or steaming. Wrap them in foil to avoid staining.

Complementary herbs and spices include allspice, bay leaf, cloves, chives, dill weed, garlic, mustard seed, thyme, and citrus.

To avoid staining your fingers, wear rubber gloves when handling beets.

To remove beet juice from fingers, rub with wet salt and lemon juice and then wash with soap and water. For cutting boards and plastic containers, use a bleach solution.

1 Tablespoon of vinegar added to beet cooking water will not only reduce the odor of the cooking beets but also help them retain their bright color.

For older beets, try adding a pinch each of sugar and salt to each cup of cooking water to revive sweetness and color.

Beets are naturally high in sodium, so no salt is necessary for the cooking water.

To microwave whole beets, pierce the skin and place one pound in a micro-proof dish with 2 Tablespoons of water. Cook on high for 9 to 12 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before cooling and peeling.

To avoid bleeding of color into other ingredients, add beets just before serving if possible.

Grated raw beets make a tasty addition to salads.