10/27/2014 08:00 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST

Showcase versatility of beets with risotto, soup, cookies and salad

Beets are one of the most versatile vegetables. They can be used in salads, soups, stir-fries, chips, dips, breads, pickles, side dishes, sandwiches and even desserts.

Here are some recipes to try.

Rosy Beet Risotto

Delicious, earthy beets lend a pretty hue to this all-time favourite Italian dish.

1 l (4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 ml (1/2 tsp) dried thyme

250 ml (1 cup) arborio rice

125 ml (1/2 cup) fruity red wine

750 ml (3 cups) diced cooked beets (4 medium)

125 ml (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

30 ml (2 tbsp) each snipped fresh dill and chives

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, bring broth to a simmer; keep warm.

In a large saucepan or deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic and thyme; cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains are translucent, about 2 minutes.

Pour in 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the warm broth; cook, stirring constantly, until all liquid is absorbed. Stir in wine; cook, stirring constantly, until all wine is absorbed. Continue to add warm broth, 125 ml (1/2 cup) at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 20 minutes.

About 5 minutes before rice is tender, gently stir in beets to heat through. Stir in cheese, dill, chives, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 servings as a main course or 6 to 8 as a starter.

Source: Foodland Ontario.


Ruby Red Beet Soup

Beets make wonderful soup. This borscht is light, colourful and easy to make ahead and reheat. Look for large beets to save time peeling.

750 g (1 1/2 lb) beets

1 onion

1 large baking potato

1.5 l (6 cups) sodium-reduced chicken broth

2 strips orange peel

15 ml (1 tbsp) red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Low-fat thick plain yogurt (such as Greek yogurt)

Chopped fresh chives

Peel beets, onion and potato. Shred in a food processor fitted with shredding disk (or use a box grater).

Place vegetables in a large saucepan along with chicken broth and orange peel. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Let cool slightly. Discard orange peel.

Puree in batches in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to saucepan and reheat until hot. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar; season with salt and pepper. (If making ahead, let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat to serve.)

Ladle into bowls and garnish with dollop of yogurt and sprinkle of chives.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Foodland Ontario.


Chocolate-Kissed Red Velvet Beet Cookies

You can eat your vegetables and dessert at the same time with these tasty beet cookies.

1 egg

175 ml (3/4 cup) whole cane sugar

175 ml (3/4 cup) grated red beets

125 ml (1/2 cup) plain yogurt

30 ml (2 tbsp) grapeseed oil

5 ml (1 tsp) white vinegar

250 ml (1 cup) almond flour (ground almonds)

250 ml (1 cup) spelt or other flour

15 ml (1 tbsp) baking powder

60 g (1/4 cup) roughly chopped dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa)

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F).

In a large bowl, whisk egg and sugar together. Add beets, yogurt, oil and vinegar.

In a separate bowl, mix flours and baking powder together and then slowly add to wet ingredients. Mix until well combined.

Spoon about 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the batter at a time onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave about 5 cm (2 inches) between each spoonful of batter.

Lightly press a chunk of dark chocolate into the centre of each spoonful of batter. Bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Makes 24 cookies (2 cookies per serving).

Source: Geremy Capone; ELLICSR Kitchen, The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto.


Orange, Fennel and Beet Salad

This recipe combines a number of seemingly disparate ingredients to produce a fresh and unusual salad.

2 blood oranges

1/2 fennel head, thinly sliced (reserve green frond tops)

1/2 pomegranate

10 black olives (any variety but avoid canned), optional

1 raw or cooked beet, any kind or a mixture

15 ml (1 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

5 ml (1 tsp) Dijon mustard

Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Carefully peel oranges, making sure to remove all of the white peel (pith). Using a paring knife, carefully separate each segment of orange. Do this over a bowl to catch all of the juice. Squeeze remaining peel to extract as much juice as possible.

In a separate serving bowl, combine orange segments, fennel slices, pomegranate arils (seeds) and olives, if using. Using a vegetable peeler, peel thin slices of beet into the same bowl.

Dressing: Whisk together olive oil, Dijon mustard, orange juice (about 30 ml/2 tbsp), salt and pepper.

Dress salad and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Geremy Capone; ELLICSR Kitchen, The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto.