To say My New Roots founder (and plant-based foodfluencer OG) Sarah Britton likes beets is a vast understatement. She likes ’em raw, cooked, in salads, dips, smoothies, stew…. “I even make a beet bourguignon, using them in place of beef, braising the beets with herbs and red wine,” the chef and food blogger says. “Oh my gosh, it’s heavenly.”
So it’s no surprise that the vibrant-colored veggie makes repeat appearances in the Dane’s new cookbook, Naturally Nourished. “I find them earthy, sweet, they have a great texture, and are just really beautiful,” Britton gushes. “They’re a humble vegetable, but I find them very versatile and fun to use.”
While Britton’s first cookbook had a vast, overarching theme of plant-based recipes for every season, her new book was crafted specifically for busy, budget-conscious readers. So it’s perfect for weekdays when you don’t have a lot of time or desire to spend a ton of money—but also aren’t keen to skimp on nutrients and taste.
“I limited myself to shopping at the budget grocer in my neighborhood,” she says—proving that, with a bit of creativity, you can eat healthy on a budget.
One of the most satisfying, wallet-friendly foods? You guessed it: beets.
Here, Britton shares exclusively with Well+Good three of her favorite (and unexpected) ways to use the root veggie.
Red Velvet Roasted Garlic Beet Soup with Mustard-Spiked Yogurt
Yields 4 to 6 servings
2 1/4 lbs beets
1 head of garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
Fine sea salt
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Slice off the portion just below the garlic bulb stem revealing the cloves. Spread a half teaspoon of the coconut oil on top, wrap the bulb in aluminum foil, and set on the baking sheet. Roast until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the leeks. Remove the dark-green tops, slice the white and light-green parts in half lengthwise, and give them a good rinse to remove any dirt in between the layers. Then slice the leeks crosswise into chunks.
3. In a large stockpot, melt the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and a few pinches of sea salt and stir. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Cook until the leeks soften, five minutes.
4. When the beets are roasted and are cool enough to handle, slip off their skins, cut them into chunks, and add them to the pot with the leeks. Add the broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the leeks are totally soft, three to four minutes.
5. Remove the foil from the garlic and squeeze the bulb from the bottom to extract the cloves directly into a blender. Scoop the bay leaves out of the pot and discard. Transfer all of the remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Season with salt. In a separate dish, stir the yogurt and mustard together, swirl into each bowl of soup, and enjoy.
Vibrant Pink Pesto Pasta
Serves 4 to 6
For the pesto:
1 lb. red beets
1/3 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
3 tsp cold-pressed olive oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
For the pasta:
Fine sea salt
1 1/3 lb dried, whole-grain pasta of your choice, preferably spaghetti or linguine
Cold-pressed olive oil, for drizzling
7 oz. soft goat cheese (or vegan cheese)
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil and roast until tender, 40 to 60 minutes. Remove the beets from the oven, unwrap the foil, and let them cool slightly before slipping off the skins.
2. While the beets are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and lightly toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, three to five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until minced. Roughly chop the beets and add them to the processor along with the pumpkin seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, and process until relatively smooth. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice as needed.
4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, place the pasta back in the pot, and drizzle with olive oil. Stir in the pesto.
5. To serve, divide the cooked pasta among individual plates, crumble the cheese on top, sprinkle with parsley, and season with salt. Garnish with extra olive oil if desired.
Polenta with Beet Ribbons and Arugula Pesto
For the arugula pesto:
1/2 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
1 small garlic clove
2 packed cups arugula
1 oz. Pecorino romano, freshly grated (about 6 Tbsp; Parmesan will also work)
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp for drizzling
3 1/2 oz. feta
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 45 minutes. The beets are ready when you can easily insert a sharp knife into the center. Remove them from the oven, peel back the foil a little, and let them cool. When the beets are cool, slip the skins off.
2. While the beets are roasting, make the polenta. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable broth and a good pinch of salt until it begins to simmer. Slowly pour in the polenta in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent clumping. Whisk constantly for a couple of minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan. Stir every five minutes or so until the polenta is creamy without any grit to it, 30 to 45 minutes total. If the polenta becomes too thick, whisk in a little hot water or more vegetable broth.
3. While the polenta is cooking, make the pesto: Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
4. Place the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven for seven to 10 minutes, watching them so they do not burn. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
5. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until minced. Add the walnuts and pulse to mince. Add the arugula, Pecorino, lemon juice, and olive oil, and pulse until uniform. Season with salt. (The pesto will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.)
6. Place the peeled beets on a cutting board and slice off the ends. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the beets into strips. Set aside.
7. To assemble, spoon about a quarter of the polenta onto each plate and top each with the desired amount of pesto. Roll up the beet ribbons and sink them down into the pesto and polenta. Curl more beet pieces in and around the rolls until most of the polenta is covered. Crumble the feta over top, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Reprinted from Naturally Nourished: Healthy, Delicious Meals Made with Everyday Ingredients. Copyright © 2017 by Sarah Britton. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Sarah Britton. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.