Harvard Beets

Photo Credit: A Family Feast

If you have never tried Harvard beets before, this version will be the perfect template to start with. This dish combines chopped beets with a velvety sauce that is both sweet and tangy that will become a favourite of all beet lovers. Martha, the author of A Family Feast recipe blog, came up with this Harvard beets recipe after trying them for the first time. While she was always a beet lover, she adored the combination of butter, sugar and vinegar that enhanced the natural sweetness and earthiness of the beet. For those unfamiliar with Harvard beets, they are one of the most unique beet recipes you will ever find, but not altogether unusual tasting if you enjoy pickled beets. This side dish recipe is unique to New England in the United States, but its origins are uncertain. Some stories claim that these beets emerged as a tribute to the Harvard Crimson football team, while others state they might have first been served in a tavern in New England. Whatever the case, this beet recipe has spiked in popularity and will make a decadent addition to any table.

The secret to these beets is the luscious glaze that coats them. The beets are cooked through by being boiled but then are coated with a syrupy combination of white sugar and vinegar that takes this dish over the top. The addition of salted butter makes the sauce in this beet recipe velvety smooth and adds a richness that helps balance the tanginess of the vinegar and the sweetness of the sugar. While granulated white sugar is a traditional ingredient in Harvard beets, if you would like a replacement for sugar, you may be able to use a more natural sweetener like honey instead. The flavour of honey would be much more pronounced, but with some simmering, the sauce should thicken to a glaze-like consistency just as the version with sugar would. Martha incorporates some cornstarch into her version of this Harvard beets recipe, which helps thicken the sauce almost instantaneously and gives it a glossy finish. If you don’t have cornstarch on hand, though, you may be able to thicken with flour instead. The flour will need to be cooked out much longer, though, to get rid of the starchy taste. Cornstarch is a great option to have on hand, though, because it is gluten-free and accessible for anyone.

If you are considering what dishes to cook for a dinner party, this sweet and sour beet recipe is an excellent choice because of their brilliant colour and unique presentation. A bowl of these ruby red beets would be beautiful adorning a holiday table laden with roasted turkey, steamed green beans and potatoes. Moreover, this beet recipe would be excellent as an everyday side dish due to how simple it is to prepare. For easy dinner ideas, Martha even suggests making up large batches of these beets and storing in the freezer until ready to use. This would be particularly ideal during winter when fresh vegetables are in short supply, and you would like a bit of comfort on the dinner table. Just use your abundant garden crop or buy bushels of beets in the fall when they are cheap.

Once you have prepared this luscious beets recipe once, it might be fun to try with beautiful, bright yellow beets as well. Although candy cane beets might be a tempting choice, don’t use them as they will lose their concentric designs during cooking. Thank you to Martha, the author of A Family Feast recipe blog, for sharing her Harvard beets recipe with us.

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