Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beets are Beautiful!

Beets are beautiful, especially these red and white striped heirloom Italian Chioggia beets which are named after a coastal fishing town south of Venice. Striped, golden, or red, beets are versatile, simple to prepare, nutritious and irresistibly sweet whether roasted, steamed, cooked in soup or sliced into salad.

If you purchase beets with green leaves still attached, carefully cut them from the root with a sharp knife. The greens are best used right away when they are at their freshest. Wash well, slice stems and leaves and steam briefly or saute in a little olive oil with some onion, leek or garlic. Beet greens are very flavorful and simple preparation is all they require.

Beet roots keep well in the fridge for 3 or 4 weeks; store in a loosely closed plastic bag. Steaming whole beets without cutting or peeling is quite simple. Place 3 or 4 medium sized well scrubbed beets in a pot and add enough water so that the beets are about 2/3 covered. Bring water to boil, lower heat, and allow to simmer gently until beets are tender when pierced, about 35- 45 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on size.

Carefully transfer cooked beets to a large bowl and allow to cool enough to handle. Place a beet on a cutting board and slice in half. Put beet halves cut side down and remove skin which will slip off easily, then slice into half rounds. Store sliced beets in a clean glass jar in fridge; their sweetness will develop as they cool. To enjoy a warm beet salad right away, arrange slices in a bowl, sprinkle with a little olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice and sea salt to taste; then enjoy the deep red beauty of beets!

For more beet recipes, see posts titled "Pacific Rim Beet Borscht" and "Butternut & Beet Saute".