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Beets, Unearthed

Martha Stewart Living, May 2009

By all rights, beets should be among the most popular picks at the farm stand. They are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with folic acid, potassium, and antioxidants, and boast a natural, mild sweetness. Plus, their jewel tones have major plate appeal.

But beets suffer from a public-relations problem. Generations of us grew up knowing them only from a can -- bland and flabby. And that's a shame. Fresh, flavorful beets are easy to find, especially from late spring through fall, when they're at their peak. For a cook, they're no harder to handle than a potato. Need convincing? Try these recipes. From quick pickled beets to a hearty Ukrainian borscht, this versatile root shines.

When shopping, you'll likely find a wide selection, including familiar crimson beets, white and yellow ones, and the candy-cane-striped Chioggia variety; these can be used interchangeably. Look for beets that are firm and not too big, with taut, smooth skins and greens that look fresh enough to eat (and do so). If you can, snap up baby beets; they're a tender treat.

But remember: Beets make a deep natural dye. If you're not a fan of their famously bright hues, cover your work surfaces. Then start peeling, slicing, and grating. You really should eat your beets.

Recipes
Crisp Black Cod with Skordalia and Roasted Beets
Raw Pickled Beets
Warm Beet Salad with Parmesan Dressing
Ukrainian Borscht

More Beets
Can't get enough of this delicious vegetable? We've dug up some of our favorite beet dishes from our archives.

Red Flannel Hash Cakes
Crisp patties of shredded beets, Yukon Gold potatoes, and smoked bacon are great for brunch or dinner.

Beet Ravioli Stuffed with Ricotta, Goat Cheese, and Mint
Handmade pasta dough mixed with golden or red beets takes on a captivating hue. Inside, a decadent filling offsets the pasta's subtle sweetness.

Cavatelli with Beets and Swiss Chard
This nutrient-rich dish is delicious at room temperature, making it perfect for a crowd. The creamy goat cheese garnish can be warmed under the broiler before serving.

Roasted Beet-and-Tomato Puree with Orange
With an inviting crimson tone and just a hint of citrus, this eye-catching side walks the line between sweet and savory.