Getting to The Root of it All

by | Mar 2023

Pickled Beets

Photos: A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Full-time blogger brings the taste of beets to plate.

When you’re cooking and want to spice up your dish, a beet might not come to mind. Sometimes, the earthy red vegetable seems intimidating for its intense hue, but believe it or not, there are a lot of ways to incorporate beets into your dishes. Brenda Score, the blogger of A Farmgirl’s Dabbles and full-time foodie, says beets taste of nostalgia.

Score grew into the recipe maker she is today thanks to her childhood on a South Dakota farm. Recounting her times in the kitchen with her mother, she decided to go full time with her blog in 2010 to share her family-inspired recipes with the world. Online, she showcases an array of recipes along with her travels and the food world outside of her kitchen, but she can never get away from the nostalgia of cooking based on her childhood.

Brenda Score

Photo: Chris Emeott

“One of my mom’s favorite things to eat is beets,” Score says, fondly recalling the days her family would go to a supper club, which served relish trays with beets—a popular dish at the time.

Score describes the flavor profile of a beet as earthy and sometimes even a bit sweet. “They aren’t cookie sweet—if you can think about a carrot being sweet, that’s what it is,” she says. Beets can be added to almost any dish, such as salads and sandwiches. “I like to eat beets with eggs in the morning, but I probably most often put them on a salad. But honestly, it’s great if you can just tuck them into a sandwich or a wrap. Some people even make hummus out of beets,” she adds.

With each dish, you can play around with pickling, boiling and roasting the beets. There’s also no right way to cut a beet. “You can dice them, slice them, quarter them, cube them, whatever works!” Score says.

There are also a few other colors of beets besides the iconic red. “There’s the red-purplish color beet that can be purchased year-round. They are best purchased in the summer or fall, but you can really purchase them any time throughout the year,” Score says. There are also yellow, white and candy cane beets (also known as candy stripe beets). “Candy cane beets are cool because when you slice through them, they make this beautiful [candy cane-like] pattern that is great for plating,” she says.

Fresh Beets

While you are out shopping for the perfect beet, Score says to look for a medium-sized varieties. “The medium-sized ones tend to be more tender than the larger ones. Beets can get pretty big from around tennis ball to baseball size. They should feel heavy for their size,” she says. If you notice that beets have greens attached, which is not common, Score recommends making sure that the leaves are still vibrant in color. It’s easier to tell how fresh they are based on if the greens are attached or not. “I would stay away from the ones that are overly large and if the pointy, bottom tip of the beet is hairy, it’s usually indicating that it’s a tougher beet,” she says. Though, when you are boiling, cooking and especially pickling a beet, the toughness of the beet doesn’t make much difference.

You can also use beet juice for cooking endeavors. Score’s favorite way to incorporate beet juice is with hard-boiled eggs. “It’s just so pretty looking, and this process doesn’t take long. You just pour that beet juice into your hard-boiled eggs, and let them soak long enough for that red color to soak up the egg whites. They come out that pretty pink color,” she says, noting she’ll eat them as is or served in a salad.

Making Pickled Beets

Score’s Notes on Beets

For beets that are tangier: When making the brine, use 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar and ½ cup water.

To boil beets: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim and wash the beets, removing any greens. Add the beets to the boiling water, and cook for 30 minutes or until completely tender. A paring knife should easily slide in and out of the beets. Beets can vary greatly in size, and they are very dense root vegetables, so size will determine how long you need to cook them. Transfer the beets to a bowl of ice water, peel away the skins with your fingers (very easy to do!) and cut or slice as desired.

To roast beets: Wash the beets, and remove any greens. Drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until completely tender. Again, the size of your beets will determine cook time. A paring knife should easily slide in and out of the beets. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so, peel away the skin and cut or slice as desired.

Pickled Beets

Contributed by Brenda Score

  • 3 cups sliced or chopped cooked beets
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp. whole mustard seeds
  • ¾ tsp. whole black peppercorn

Slice or chop the prepared beets to your desired size—I usually chop into 1-inch cubes. Add them to a 1-quart jar, and set aside while you make the brine. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard seeds and peppercorns. Bring mixture to a boil, and cook until sugar and salt dissolve. Pour the brine over the beets, making sure to cover them completely. Let cool to room temperature. Seal the jar/container, and place it in the fridge to chill. I recommend waiting until the beets are fully chilled to serve, but they will have a lightly pickled flavor after 15 minutes.

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Beet Pickled Eggs

Contributed by Brenda Score

  • 8 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 cups picked beet juice (Use the juice from Score’s Pickled Beets recipe.)

Place hard-boiled eggs in a 1-quart jar that has a tight-fitting lid. Pour beet juice over eggs to cover completely. Place the lid on securely, and store in refrigerator.

Score’s tip: The eggs will not have a very noticeable pickled flavor after 12 hours but are extra pretty for salads, deviled eggs, etc. The pickled flavor will increase over time—allow one to three weeks for increased pickled flavor. These eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.

Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Contributed by Brenda Score

Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Balsamic vinaigrette

For the roasted beets:

  • 4–5 cups cubed (about 1/2 inch in size) peeled beets, from about
  • 4–5 medium-sized beets
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the cubed beets with the olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes; stir. Roast for an additional 20 minutes, or until beets are fully softened and starting to caramelize. Remove from oven and let cool. You can roast the beets 1–2 days ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the balsamic dressing:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced shallot
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. Morton kosher salt
  • 1/2 freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a pint jar and shake vigorously to combine. Or use an immersion blender to blitz all ingredients until completely smooth, emulsified and lightly thickened. This can be prepared 1–2 days ahead of time.

For the salad:

  • 5 oz. baby arugula
  • 10 oz. pre-shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied pecans
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

On a large platter or low wide salad bowl, evenly spread the arugula. Spread a layer of shredded carrots over the arugula, in the center, leaving a border of arugula showing at the outer edge. Then, add beets on top of the carrots, in the very center, leaving a border of carrots showing. You want to see all the layers distinctly. Sprinkle salad with blue cheese and candied pecans. Add more salt and pepper, if desired. Drizzle a bit of the dressing over the top of the salad, if desired, and serve the remainder of the dressing on the side—or just serve all of the dressing on the side.

A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
Instagram: @farmgirlsdabble
Twitter: @farmgirlsdabble


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