Let’s get this straight: I generally hate beets. There is nothing about this root vegetable to that appeals to me. I’ve sent back a salad before because it was laced with cooked, shredded beets that were tossed in there unbeknownst to me (insert orange rage emoji face). However, after I recently tried a salad recipe that called for thinly sliced golden beets, my sentiments towards the vegetable became far more tolerant. Don’t get me wrong, I have given beets a fair chance. I’ve eaten them roasted, boiled, mashed, and pickled, but eating them raw in a salad might be the only way I actually enjoy them.
Unlike their red counterpart, golden beets have a milder flavor and won’t stain your hands as dramatically with their juices. Along with the beets, the salad included thinly sliced carrots and radishes, all tossed with leafy greens and coated in a lemony tahini dressing. Not only did the creaminess of the tahini dressing coated the raw vegetables well, but the slight bitterness and acidity in tahini mellowed the earthy golden beet slices perfectly, and sold me on the very vegetable that I’ve spent a lifetime disliking.
Since beets are one of those vegetables that people generally either like or despise, there is not much space for middle of the road feelings. It’s like cilantro. I can sprinkle cilantro on just about anything with no problem, but for others, it tastes like soap. And for a long time, beets tasted like fertilized soil to me. Thanks to science, there is an explanation for that distinctive dirty-sweet flavor that can be off-putting to some. Beets have an organic chemical compound called geosmin that gives them their earthy flavor. Each person has a different sensitivity to geosmin, causing some to like or dislike the natural earthiness. Ultimately, it’s also just a matter of personal preference.
It takes baby steps in order to come around to liking beets, but when you do, the health benefits will make you glad you did. Eating beets can help lower blood pressure, improve endurance performance, and increase blood flow to the brain. Beets are rich in fiber and improve overall digestion. Once you come to appreciate their flavor, beets are truly the gift that keep on giving.