Beet the Heat

Three recipes for summer’s singular root.

The beet is truly summer’s root vegetable, versatile enough to be incorporated into burgers, salads and a variety of dishes. Beets are also a good bet for your health—they’ve been proven to reduce blood pressure, improve stamina and mental function and also help to detox the liver and intestinal tracts. There is really no reason not to eat them as often as you can.

Here, we offer a few of our favorite recipes to get more of this most adaptable of roots into your summer diet.

Garlic and Herb Hamburgers with Goat Cheese and Roasted Beets

4 good-sized beetroots, washed and dried
arugula (rocket) leaves
soft goat’s cheese
6 large hamburger buns

Wrap the beets in foil and cook in a 370-degree oven until soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. When cooled, peel and slice into discs. Assemble patty, goat cheese chunks and beetroot slices with layers of arugula leaves between the buns, and serve while still warm.

For the burgers:
2 ½ pounds ground meat (beef and pork combination is my favorite)
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped mixture of fresh herbs, like oregano, basil, thyme and mint
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground fresh pepper
2 beaten eggs
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Combine all ingredients thoroughly, and divide into 6 to 8 equal portions. Form these into balls and flatten, so they are about 4 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Cook on hot grill, pressing down slightly. Turn the heat down and cover for three to four minutes. Flip over and cook for three to four minutes on the other side.

Roasted Beets with Endive, Pink Grapefruit and Popped Amaranth

4 red or golden beets
2 pink grapefruit
3-4 endive heads
¼ cup popped amaranth (instructions below)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chives and tarragon for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub washed beets lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until tender, 35-40 minutes. Set aside.

Section the grapefruit, reserving the juice and setting aside 2 tablespoons for the vinaigrette. Quarter the endives and pour all but 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice over them to prevent discoloration. Remove them after 5 minutes.

To assemble the salad, quarter the beets and toss with the popped amaranth. Toss the endives and grapefruit sections with the vinaigrette. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange on plates with the beets and garnish with the fresh herbs.

For amaranth: 
Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the amaranth 1 tablespoon at a time, using a lid to prevent the grains from popping out of the pan. Shake pan occasionally while popping to prevent burning. Remove each batch when popping noises start to subside.

For vinaigrette: 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

Combine mustard, shallot, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. When blended, add the grapefruit juice.

Serves 4

Rosemary Beet Chips with Silverback Vodka Crème Fraîche and Trout Roe

For vodka crème fraîche:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons Silverback vodka

Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) for 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering. Fold in vodka when thickened and refrigerate up to 10 days.

For the rosemary beet chips:
2 large beets, thinly sliced with a mandoline or the slicing mechanism in a food processor
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 cups extra virgin olive oil for pan-frying
sea salt
2 ounces Virginia trout roe 

Warm olive oil in a large pot over high heat to 350 degrees with rosemary. Meanwhile, trim 1 inch off the root end of the beets. Using a mandoline, slice the beets into very thin slices, about 8-inch thick.

When the oil reaches 350 degrees, remove rosemary and fry beets a single layer at a time. Fry until curled at the edges and most of the bubbling has subsided, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the beets to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.

Continue with the remaining beets. Let cool and transfer to a serving plate. Top with a teaspoon of chilled crème fraîche and ¼ teaspoon Virginia trout roe. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8

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