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Chef’s Tips: How to Prep and Cook Beets Like a Pro

Plus a you’re-gonna-want-to-eat-this-all-season-long beet salad recipe from the Salted Vine Kitchen and Bar’s chef Jeff Park.

For Jeff Park, chef/co-owner of the Salted Vine Kitchen and Bar in Squamish, beets are one of the most versatile ingredients to have in your kitchen (“I love the bold colours they bring to fall dishes”), so he’s sharing his best tips on how to prep, cook and serve ’em like a pro—and, oh yeah, we also convinced him to share his recipe for beet salad with burrata and granola.

Prep ’em!

“I usually purchase beets from the farmers’ markets,” says Park. “If you do the same, you’ll notice beers are often covered in sand and mud. Before you start preparing your beets, make sure you give them a good wash under running water.”

Cut the stems off your beets when you bring them home. This will make them last longer, even in your fridge—usually for a few weeks.

Use the leaves! Though they’re tough and hearty like Swiss chard or collard greens, you can lightly blanch them in vegetable stock to cook them out. Toss them in butter along with salt and pepper before serving.

Use gloves when you’re handling red beets, or you’ll likely have pink hands for a few days…I’ve seen a few new cooks make this rookie mistake. This is also the reason a lot of restaurants prefer to use golden and pink beets.


Cook ’em!

Boil
Boiled beets can be puréed in a blender with olive oil, salt and pepper. This makes a great sauce for scallops and fish.

  1. Take whole, unpeeled beets and drop them in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the size of your beets).
  2. Use a paring knife to test if the beets are cooked—if it slides in with little resistance, your beets are ready!
  3. Peel them when they’re cool enough to handle. Don’t wait too long! Beets are easiest to peel when they’re a still a bit hot.
  4. Slice the beets and grill on a BBQ or in a pan before serving.

Roast
Roasted beets are a great addition to steak and hearty meat dishes.

  1. Coat your washed, unpeeled beets with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Using aluminum foil, create a pouch for your beets and fold to seal it closed—this will steam the beets while they roast in the oven.
  3. Roast in a 400°F degree oven (375°F if you’re using convection) for 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Use a paring knife to test if the beets are cooked.
  5. Peel them when they’re cool enough to handle, then toss your beets in a little more olive oil before serving.

Pickle
Pickled beets are great in salads or served alongside fatty meats or cheeses, like Buratta.

  1. Combine 1 litre of water, 1½ cup granulated sugar, 1 cup white wine vinegar and 2½ tbsp kosher salt in a large pot.
  2. Add 6 medium-sized beets (golden and candy cane beets work best) and boil until the beets are tender (about 40 to 50 minutes).
  3. Take the beets out to cool, strain the liquid and set aside. Allow beets to cool enough to handle, then remove the skins.
  4. Combine beets and cooking liquid in a sealable container. Store for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Eat ’em!

Put all these tips to good use and make The Salted Vine’s beet salad with burrata and granola at home—get the recipe here.

(Photo: Amy Ho.)

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