CSA Challenge: Beet Risotto, Tahini Beets, and Beet Chocolate Cake

When I opened our CSA box this last week there were three enormous beets (complete with all of their greens) in there.  Now I like beets, but not enough to eat three large softball-sized beets by myself.  You see Graham is not a huge fan of this root vegetable and it takes some work to convince him to even try them, so sometimes I end up enjoying them on my own.  This time though, I was afraid I would forever be stained purple inside and out with beet juice if I tried to eat all of these beets by myself.

As a result, I turned to the food blogosphere for some inspiration and new ways to prepare these behemoth veggies.  Luckily I found three very different recipes that would use up all of the beets and even the beet greens as well.

The first recipe was for beet risotto and it came from Love and Olive Oil, where they have several fabulous looking beet recipes.  Since I hadn’t made risotto for a while and had a large box of arborio rice staring down at me from the cabinet, the decision to try their beet risotto recipe was an easy one.  I ended up sticking to their recipe pretty closely, except I did peel and cube the beets before roasting them to get a little more caramelized beet flavor (see my recipe for roasted beets here).   While the resulting dish was shockingly pink in color, the combination of creamy risotto and earthy beets was delightful.

The second recipe came from the Kitchn and was for tahini beets.  This recipe intrigued me because I’ve eaten a lot of tahini in dishes at restaurants, but I had never actually made anything with it at home.  For this recipe, I decided to use the beet greens instead of the beetroots and we found that the rich and garlicky tahini sauce complemented the bittersweet beet greens perfectly.   I am definitely planning on trying the tahini sauce on other greens in the future.  Tahini collards anyone?

Finally to try something totally different, I made a beet chocolate cake with a recipe from Veggie Belly.   Though I was skeptical of the beet and chocolate combination, Sala’s drool-worthy photos inspired me to give the cake recipe a try.   Since I didn’t have any heavy cream on hand, I replaced the ganache topping with a chocolate cream cheese frosting (a quarter of this recipe provided enough frosting for a sheet cake) and used butter instead of oil in the cake itself.  The resulting cake was incredibly moist and did not have a hint of beet flavor.   In fact, Graham didn’t even know there were beets in the cake until I told him!

While I think chocolate cake is now Graham’s favorite way to ingest beets, overall we were quite pleased with all three of these recipes.  Please check out the links above to make the recipes yourself.

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Since there are three dishes this week, the recipe ratings are a little different than usual—they are an average of the ratings for all three recipes.

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating


Four Chefs (Delicious!)

Since we are diehard dessert lovers, the chocolate cake probably scores highest on the tasty scale, but all of the dishes were very good.

Easy Rating


Three Easy Chairs (Average Difficulty)

Because there are several steps to making the cake and you must constantly stir the risotto while it is on the stove, the easy rating for these two dishes is on the lower side.  The tahini beet greens are very easy to make though, bringing up the overall easy score.

Healthy Rating


Three Apples (Average Nutritional Quality)

Even though there are beets in the cake, it still has a lot of butter and sugar, which bring down the overall health score for these beet dishes.

Green Rating


Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)

The beets were local and organic and many (but not all) of the other ingredients in these dishes were organic.
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12 comments to CSA Challenge: Beet Risotto, Tahini Beets, and Beet Chocolate Cake

  • I adore beets, especially in the summer when they are tender and sweet. Some people have incorporated beets in their velvet chocolate cake very successfully, so I’m not surprised the chocolate cake was a hit.

  • Sally, I love beets, unfortunately my husband does not care for it, therefore I do not buy it often…love that we can use it all the leaves and the root… and chocolate cake with beets, that is new to me, and it sure looks yummie!

  • gillian

    Cool concept. I actually love beets, but I loved the idea of the beet cake recipe… what’s with all the weighing… do you have cup measurements by any chance? Maybe if you do it again you could keep track of the amounts?

  • I love beets. My favorite super easy thing to do with them is slice them thinly, toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Then roast them in the oven. I’m drooling about it right now.

  • All three of them look very appetizing! If you have any beet root left try to boil it and then mix it with Greek yogurt sauce made with one pot of yogurt one or two garlic cloves, 1 tsp vinegar and salt, simple and delicious!

  • sally

    Sorry about that, Gillian! I have a kitchen scale and use it all the time for baking. I did some quick conversions to cups and here is what I came up with for the recipe for the cake (I can’t promise it is completely accurate though):
    3/8 cup of chocolate chips, 3 eggs, 1 1/3 cups of sugar, 2 sticks of butter, 1 1/2 very large beets, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and a little more than 1 1/2 cups flour.
    Please let me know if you try it!

  • sally

    Thanks Katerina! Your beet recipe sounds great!

  • wow three great recipes! I love beets but always get them in restaurants–I need to try cooking with them!

  • Your risotto looks fantastic! I love that bright color. I am a huge fan of beets, so this is right up my alley. The CSA box sounds like a fun way to push yourself to try new things.

  • All of these recipes, while unusual, sound delicious. I’d love to try them. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • Beet chocolate cake? I’ven now heard everything. Delicious!

  • I have a good bunch of beets waiting for me in the fridge… now to decide which recipe to try :) I’m leaning towards the risotto, it’s seriously so pretty!

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