In Season: Beets

Everyday Food, October 2010

The Basics
This sweet, earthy root vegetable comes in many varieties: In addition to baseball-size red beets, you may see baby golden ones or Chioggias, which have red-and-white concentric stripes inside. The beetroot and greens are both edible and good sources of folate, potassium, and fiber. Available year-round, they're best in summer and early fall.

Buying and Storing
Look for dense, firm beets with taut skin; don't worry about any rough patches or small roots. The greens should be unwilted, with crisp stems. Cut the greens off, leaving 1 inch attached, then scrub the beets to dislodge any grit. Refrigerate beets in a plastic bag, up to 2 weeks. Rinse and refrigerate the greens, wrapped in damp paper towels, in a plastic bag, up to 2 days.

To Use and Cook
Peel and grate raw beets and add to salads or sandwiches. Roast, steam, or boil beets and add to salads or pastas. Or, make the vibrant-colored soup called borscht. Beet greens are mild in flavor and make a great side dish; simply saute them in olive oil with garlic and red-pepper flakes.

4 Ways to Cook Beets

Roasted
Quick prep, slow roast: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss 1 bunch beets (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed, with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cover dish tightly with foil; roast until tender when pierced with a knife, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, rub with a paper towel to remove skins.

Precut, fast roast: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 1 bunch beets (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges, on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Fold foil around beets and crimp ends to form a packet. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes.

Steamed
Set a steamer basket in a saucepan with 2 inches simmering water. Add 1 bunch beets (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Cover and steam until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

Boiled
Place 1 bunch beets (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces, in a large pot of boiling salted water. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes; drain.

Recipes
Beet Salad with Arugula and Oranges
Beet, Cheddar, and Apple Tarts
Pasta with Beet Greens, Blue Cheese, and Hazelnuts
Roasted Beets with Mint-Yogurt Sauce

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