I confess to being a latent beet lover. I think was traumatized by a childhood experience as well as an unnatural fear of being stigmatized by eating “old” people food. Now, I am mad about beets. I love them and look for ways to incorporate them into salads, soups and entrees—I even made sorbet with them once
Beets are root vegetables that contain high amounts of fiber and nutrient compounds that fight cancer, high blood pressure and a host of health issues. Beets are best known in their cultivated form as beetroot or garden beets. Other cultivated varieties include their leafy cousins chard and beet spinach. Beets are found in produce markets all year round. Baby beets are found in produce markets and farmer’s markets in late May and early June. Baby beets are small (golf ball size or smaller) and are very sweet and tender. Larger beets are harvested throughout the summer and fall. These late season beets are perfect winter vegetables. They are versatile and delicious.
Beets are found in several varieties. The most familiar is the dark red beet most commonly found in markets. There are also yellow or golden beets which have a gorgeous bright yellow color. Less common is the candy stripe or chiogga beet. The candy stripe beets range from pale to intense bright pink with white stripes that give it a candy cane appearance. These dazzling beets are most easily found in farmer’s markets. All the varieties of beets have the same flavor which if you are unfamiliar with beets is a slightly peppery-earthy flavor that becomes sweet with roasting.
Beets are best stored in the refrigerator and will keep for several weeks.
My favorite way to cook beets is to roast them. Roasting beets brings out the natural sweetness and makes them tender. Once roasted, I add the beets to salads, grain and rice dishes, soups and sautéed vegetable side dishes.