Bull's-Eye Beets

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The beets are back. Inside this bulbous Beta vulgaris is a root that can’t  make up its mind – is it op art or what? Red, white, red, white: if you slice  them longitudinally they reveal a bull's-eye design. Grated along the bias  they look like salami. Anyway you slice them; these beets are full of flavor  and super nutrients.

The Chioggia Beet is an heirloom variety, hailing from Chioggia, a  miniature Venice on Italy’s Adriatic Sea. In the 1960s, when Jasper Johns painted his iconic target paintings, he learned that red + white = pink.  Likewise, Chioggia stripes + cooking = pink. If you want to preserve the  beets' unusual design, slice and serve raw. Cook them gently, steam,  boil, or roast. To get the most nutrients, cook beets with the skin on  and then peel afterwards. This makes clean up easier too although the  Chioggias don’t “bleed” as much as other red beets.

The green tops can also be sautéed: they’re tender, delicious, and  loaded with vitamins. Beets are a nutritional powerhouse with plenty of  Potassium, Folate, Manganese, and an array of antioxidants. They come  in a wonderful palette of colors, and at just 44 calories, .02g fat and 2.0g  fiber, and 1.7g protein, beets are a creative way to combine good nutrition  and artful food.

Preparation
Cooked: Scrub and remove tops and bottoms. Roast in covered pot with a  little water in bottom of pot. They are done when easily pierced with a fork  (30-40 minutes). Run under cold water and peel. Raw: Scrub and peel  outer layer; slice or grate in salads.

Storage
Break or cut greens 2” from root. Store beet roots in a bag in the crisper, for no more  than 1 week. Greens should be used immediately or stored separately  wrapped in paper towels in a plastic bag and will last a couple of days.

- Heidi Lewis

 

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