Beets… It’s What’s for Dinner
Vegetables grow… it’s what they naturally do. But one
versatile root vegetable has grown in another way: adoption on restaurant
menus. The earthy, rich red beet shows up on nearly 1/5 of restaurant menus,
growing 24% over the past 4 years. Could this robust bulb find a place on your
Beets hold up to nearly any cooking method and stand out in
nearly any dish, so chefs have been stretching it to its limits with delectable
results. Though a standout in the fall, it can be enjoyed anytime when prepared
by the most capable hands.
Many restaurant diners are only used to beets on salads, but
there are so many more possibilities with the vibrant bulb (and even its edible
greens). Native to the Mediterranean, beets have been a food source from
ancient times—not just because it’s a healthy food, but for medicinal and even
aphrodisiac properties. Europeans made it a staple by roasting them beginning
in the 1800s. Today, chefs are freeing beets from mere salad topping and employing
other methods of preparation, including the European-favored roasting, but
adding pickled, candied, fermented, and juiced varieties. Perhaps the most
surprising applications are beets as a meat alternative and a key ingredient in
With creative minds the possibilities seem endless, but for
some, one bad past beet experience can make a patron timid. Chefs note,
however, that with the variety of beets (from deep red, to candy-striped, and
more) come a variety of flavors. New recipes and applications mean it’s very
likely that even the most beet-averse will find a delectable beet-based dish.
The growing interest in using beets in cuisine can be traced
to the explosion of demand for healthier options, both for omnivorous and
vegetarian/vegan diets. Packed with nutrients, but low in calories, beets are
noted to support healthy blood pressure, physical performance, reduced
inflammation, digestive and brain health, and weight loss. Their antioxidants
are also a great choice for a cancer-preventative diet.
Beets have proven to be a full-flavored nutritious choice
that chefs not only add to menus but build entire dishes around. As demand for
vegetable-based—but not bland—cuisine grows this gorgeous root vegetable is
coming to the fore and can take a starring role in numerous variations: from
sweet cocktails to savory meatless entrees, beets… it’s what’s for dinner.
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