(CNN) – Even for veggie lovers, beets often require a bit of convincing. Beets, also known as beets, are one of those vegetables that are loved or hated, with strong opinions on both sides. As it enters its peak season, from late summer to late fall, the debate continues.
If you are part of the camp of those who hate it because of its smell, there is a scientific reason why you can feel that way. Geosmin, a naturally occurring microbial compound, is responsible for the characteristic “dirt” or “dirty” smell that many people dislike. And because taste buds and smell are so intertwined, beets can also taste earthy.
Horticultural scientists have examined the geosmin levels of various varieties of beets to grow special beets with less of this aromatic compound, such as Badger Flame varieties developed at the University of Wisconsin.
For those who don’t want to grow their own beets or can’t find these specialty beets in their local markets, golden or white beets may be more palatable.
“If you’re having trouble with the intensity of beets, gold or white varieties are a good starting point,” says registered dietitian Alyssa Pike, nutrition communications officer for the International Food Information Council, a supported nonprofit organization. by the food industry.
Geosmin is less prevalent in these lighter colored beets, which have a milder and sweeter taste than other red varieties like Striped Chioggia.
Beyond its earthy taste, beets are a source of nutrition. “They contain a number of beneficial nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin C, iron and magnesium,” says Pike, and they are also a good source of fiber, folate and manganese.
If your only experience with this controversial vegetable has been canned or boiled beets, it’s time to branch out and try some preparations that might change your mind. Use beets of the color you want in the following recipes.
Fried beets, pan or air
What doesn’t taste better fried? Instead of potatoes, you can deep-fry beet cubes or slices for a sweet and crunchy snack or side. This recipe use a rice flour for a delicately light coating and combine the beets with a spicy Japanese-inspired mayonnaise.
In an air fryer, the beet slices they keep a fresher flavor than any bagged brand you’ll find in the snack aisle.
(You can also make a oven-like version if you don’t have an air fryer). As a bonus, these fries can be flavored with any seasoning in the pantry, be it barbecue spice or Cajun seasoning.
Rosti (or roesti) and latkes are the Swiss and Jewish ways of essentially making potato pancakes. But in both cases you can substitute the grated potatoes with beets.
In the case of rosti, the beets are fried in a large cake and then cut into portions. For the latkes, the beet pancakes are pan-fried individually. Whichever you choose, they are versatile as a garnish for any meal.
Roasted or grilled beets
Remember when we all hated Brussels sprouts, until we found out how wonderful they can be when roasted? Well, the same goes for beets. The high heat roasting process caramelizes the natural sugars in beets, transforming their plant sweetness into a drier, roasted flavor.
You can simply mix the beet chunks or cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl, then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Roast in the oven at 425 ° F (218 ° C) degrees for about 35-40 minutes, stirring once or twice. You can also achieve this caramelization with the high heat of a grill by cooking the beets wrapped in aluminum foil.
To add more complex flavors to the caramelization process, you can add a pinch of brown sugar or a splash of balsamic vinegar to the beets when you mix them with the olive oil.
Serve roasted beets as a garnish, as part of a grain bowl, or as part of a salad. Roasted beets are also the base of the beet hummus bright pink color. (Making the hummus with chickpeas and beets will give it a slightly duller color than using beets alone.)
Beets may not be a substitute for zucchini As the cleverest vegetable to hide in desserts, beets are sometimes hard to hide! But their natural sweetness makes a surprisingly nice pairing in baked goods.
The chocolate cupcakes with beets They are rich and fluffy and can be topped with a festive pink natural buttercream frosting. Don’t have time to decorate? Take a loaf pan and bake a chocolate cake with beets for snack.
For a slightly more virtuous breakfast or snack, add beets to banana bread seems like a no-brainer. Even easier are the Beet, oatmeal and banana muffins, which you can prepare in the blender and pour directly into the molds.
Or in a drink
If you can’t stand beets in any other way, maybe a cocktail will help. A beet margarita with mezcal Combine the smoky flavors of Mexican liquor with a homemade beet simple syrup and tangy lemon juice for an intriguing combination.
If you’d rather try bourbon beet syrup, make an Old Fashioned Beet Cocktail. Or make a ginger beet martini with homemade beet, apple, and ginger juice if you’re ambitious, or store-bought beet juice to make it easy.