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Beets beat to the sound of their own drum. They are a vegetable unlike any other. The color is so bright and vibrant that one touch will turn your fingertips magenta. The flavor is so rich and earthy sweet, you can almost taste the soil it grew in—in a good way. And this beet just so happens to be the oldest surviving variety you can get. In fact, it was the most popular beet in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as far back as the 1800s.

To truly appreciate this colorful veg, try tasting it raw, then roasting it and tasting it again. You’ll notice a bright spring earthiness and deep woodsy intensity that may just make your heart skip a beet.

Learn more about Early Blood Turnip-Rooted Beets. 

I used to avoid making beets, until I realized you don’t have to peel them first. This simple method roasts the beets whole and peels them later. Your fingers will thank you. 

Simple, Roasted Beets

Servings: 4-6
Active: 15 minutes
Total: 1-1/2 hours


  • 4-5 beets, with their greens (any variety of beets will work)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme (or other hardy herb such as rosemary)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 


Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut the greens from the beets, leaving a small stem. Scrub the beets clean and dry with a paper towel. Wash the beet greens and set aside to dry (or spin in a salad spinner). Carefully poke the beets all around with a sharp knife to create shallow air vents as they cook.

Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving enough slack on both sides to eventually wrap around the ingredients and form a pouch. Place the beet greens on the foil, making a bed for the beets. Top with the beets and scatter with thyme. Drizzle with olive oil. Press the edges of the foil together and seal it tightly.

Roast until knife inserted in center slides out easily, about 40-50 minutes (depending on the size of the beets). Remove from oven, and carefully open foil (steam will be very hot). When beets are cool enough to handle, peel off skin. It should come off fairly easily with a knife. Slice beets and beet greens and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of flakey sea salt.

If you’re interested in growing Early Blood Turnip-Rooted Beets, you can order seeds from Seeds Savers Exchange.

Recipe and food photography by Andrea Branchini, @dabblingchef