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.
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.
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