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Perfect Beets Recipe (For People Who Don't Like Beets) by Mir Kamin for

Perfect Beets For People Who Don’t Like Beets

By Mir Kamin

I recently read this New York Times piece by Frank Bruni on learning to love foods we’ve previously disliked, and it struck a chord with me. I’ve always been an omnivore, with precious few foods in the “true dislike” category, but Bruni’s favorite once-hated-but-now-adored food is the same as mine—beets.

What is it about beets that brings out this strident aversion or devoted adoration? I don’t know. Everyone who tells me they don’t like beets says the same thing—they “taste like dirt.” I don’t get it. All I know is that I used to think they tasted weird and now I love them.

So do I love this recipe? Of course I do. I love it because it’s beets, and I love beets. But, I’ve also been able to use it to win over some of those “oh, I don’t like beets” folks, so I offer it up today as a gateway to beet appreciation. Granted, if you’re not a fan of the other ingredients, this concoction isn’t likely to sway you. But if the other ingredients sound delicious to you—and really, what’s not to like?—give it a try. This may be where you convert.

Best Beet Recipe for People Who Don't Like Beets by Mir Kamin for

Ingredients for Balsamic Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Recipe

4 medium-sized beets (or equivalent)
4 medium-sized sweet onions (or equivalent)
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
3 TBL olive oil, divided (plus more to taste, if desired)
1-3 TBL balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp thyme
salt, pepper

Directions for Balsamic Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Recipe

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the tops off the beets and scrub the outsides. (Here I’ll note that lots of people view throwing away beet greens as a sin. I’m a sinner; I just throw them in the compost. But you could certainly do something else with them.) I like to roast my beets in a foil packet; simply double up some tinfoil, place the clean beets atop it and bring the sides up to create a pouch, then pierce the beets a few times with a fork and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Then the pouch can be gathered up and twisted shut and placed on the center rack of your oven. For medium-sized beets, roasting should be complete in 45-60 minutes (check them at 45). You want a fork to easily penetrate to the center of the beet when they’re ready.

Once the beets are roasted, open the packet and allow them to cool until they can be safely handled. At this point the skins should slip off easily, and the beets can be chopped into whatever size pieces you like (I go for bite-sized half-moons, usually). This whole step can be done ahead of time, if you like, and the chopped beets stored in the fridge.

While the beets are roasting, put two tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Chop your onions into strips (I usually cut each onion in half, then cut strips from there) and dump them all in the pan. The size and shape of the onion pieces doesn’t matter, but for even caramelization you want them to be more or less the same size, so pick a cut and stick with it. Add salt and pepper while the onions cook down. Successful caramelization is achieved low and slow; keep the heat low, stir every few minutes, and take your time. What seems like an enormous pile of onions at the outset should cook down to a small, sticky pile of gooey onion deliciousness.

In a small frying pan, toast your pecan pieces over medium heat until fragrant. You don’t need to add a thing, just heat them up, stirring or tossing regularly, until they smell good.

Time to assemble! Add the beets to the large frying pan containing the onions, and stir to incorporate and coat the beets with the oil in the pan. Add your thyme, taste to see if you need more salt/pepper, and add one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Depending on how much acid you like, you may wish to go up to as much as three tablespoons; I usually do about two to two-and-a-half. Taste it and see.

Turn off the heat under your pan and add the goat cheese. It will melt into everything else as you stir, and also turn a festive pink. This is fine. Lastly, top with the pecans and give it all one more stir before putting everything into a serving dish.

This dish hits every note I need in something yummy; the beets are savory and silky, the onions sweet and sticky, the goat cheese smooth, while the balsamic and the pecans give it all just the right amount of bite. It’s delicious warm, and nearly as good cold, too. Serve it as a perfect side dish—for whatever reason, I like it with pork loin, especially—or if you’re really feeling the beet love, I will often fix this and just have it as a salad meal over a bed of baby spinach. Depending on your level of beet devotion, you can feed 3-6 people with this recipe as written (but smaller or larger quantities are easy to do, too).

‘Fess up: Where do you stand on beets? Would you try this recipe even if you’re wary?

About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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  • Mona

    March 2, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    This sounds amazing. And also like something that would horrify my husband- more for me!

  • Stacey

    March 2, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Do you have a toddlers/ kids recipe for using canned beets?

    • Mir Kamin

      March 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

      I don’t, Stacey. One of my kids likes this recipe and the other will not eat beets no matter what, no thank you. I tend not to buy canned veggies, either, because I think they have a lot of salt and not a lot of flavor.

      All of that said, this beet hummus recipe seems like it would work with canned beets and maybe be kid-friendly!

  • Susan:)

    March 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Mm, sounds yummy! I like beets well enough. I’ve had roasted beets that were very good and canned beets that were just okay. My nieces used to like the canned beets when they were toddlers but then got into their picky phases and stopped eating them. Fresh ones are definitely tastier!

  • […] working and such, I also took to Alpha Mom and wrote my most controversial blog post yet. (Hint: It’s about beets. People have strong feelings about beets.) And then after I finished eating my beets (mmmm… […]

  • Stacy

    March 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I LOVE beets.  I think it has something to do with my stay in Russia.  My favorite recipe involves a beet salad over pickled herring.  It is delicious!  It’s a perfect blend of sweet and sour.  

  • Katherine

    March 5, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I would try this, if someone else made it, but since none of us likes beets, it’s seems like a lot of work for something we might not like. I’m not sure I’d say beets taste like dirt, but they taste odd and not in a good way.

  • Amanda

    March 5, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I love beets – they remind me of my great grandma’s farm. Might have to try this with my family (mostly beet-haters!).

  • Niki

    March 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

    This sounds aMAzing. I was mostly wary of beets — which I only ever saw at salad bars — until a friend made a beet/goat cheese/chicken salad. Beets with goat cheese are a match made in heaven. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Anna

    March 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    My aunt serves beets with mac and cheese- I get it, there’s a contrast there 
    I picked up a can of beets last week, hoping to work them in somehow. I may have to try this, but no tree nuts for us.

    • Mir Kamin

      March 6, 2014 at 9:40 am

      I like nuts, myself, and we’re not dealing with allergies, but they’re really just there for crunch. You could omit them entirely or substitute toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, instead.

  • Brigitte

    March 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I love beets and have converted my hubby . . . but I kinda like the taste of dirt too (sucked off a fresh radish or such from the garden).

  • Daisy

    March 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I’ve heard that beets can be used in an all-natural no-chemicals safer-for-the-Earth road salt. Have you heard of that? 

    I could make this. I’d like it – but would husband and son? Maybe. I’ll keep it in mind. 

    As for dirt, I love having dirt on my hands. The smell of damp soil is heavenly for me. 🙂

  • Chuck

    March 8, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Nice writing, Mir. This one will be tough to beet. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

  • Nancy

    March 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    sinner! wash, chop and saute those beet greens 😉 I used to throw them out too, but if you like “greens” in general, you’ll probably like beet greens and you can feel all sanctimonious if you like about getting a twofer! This recipe sounds yummy. I’d serve it with the greens…heh….

    • Mir Kamin

      March 15, 2014 at 10:22 am

      I like greens of all kinds and YET every time I try to cook beet greens I’m disappointed. I’ve given up. I know, I’m a disappointment.

  • Nancy

    March 14, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    P.S. New beet eaters should also be warned that peeing pink is a side effect and no cause for concern, all other things being equal. I once has to talk a friend down from a serious panic. There are other things asparagus eaters need to know…oh dear.

  • Erin

    March 14, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    I made this tonight and I loved it! I already like beets, but they need to be prepared well for me to enjoy them. My husband and son don’t like goat cheese, so I used some aged manchego I found at Trader Joe’s. Not as creamy, I’m sure, but very flavorful!

    • Mir Kamin

      March 15, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Oooooh manchego! That’s a good idea. I’ve made this with feta, too—again, it isn’t creamy like the goat cheese, but still yummy.

  • Sandra

    March 17, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I made this last night for my family. My husband, who doesn’t like beets, liked it a lot. My 11 year old who eats most anything but isn’t a cheese lover, didn’t really like it. Maybe next time I’ll make some just for her but w/no cheese.

    • Mir Kamin

      March 18, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Sounds like a win to me, Sandra! 🙂

  • momzen

    June 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I LOVE this recipe!  I even (finally) printed it out, after the third time.  🙂

  • Karmah

    November 7, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Well, I just hate beets, but want to love them, due to their nutritional advantages, and am in the midst of fixing your tasty sounding recipe right now! Thank you, for posting this. Although I will be leaving off the cheese (I’m vegan), the toasted pecans & balsamic sound just awesome. Fingers crossed!

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