Beets are one of the family of root vegetables, which help to extend our local harvest well into the Vermont winter as they store well for weeks to months. Other root vegetables include potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, and carrots, which are in plentiful supply this time of year. Beets have an earthy, sweet flavor, and range in color from the classic red to a golden yellow.

At certain times of the year, you may find greens still attached to the beetroot. If the greens are fresh, don’t throw them away! You can use them as you would use Swiss chard, kale, or other study greens. The greens from red beets will still impart a bit of a rosy glow to the dish. Prior to storing, separate the greens from the root, and use the greens within a few days.

Nutrition

Like many brightly colored vegetables, beets provide antioxidant nutrients. Antioxidant nutrients can help prevent cell damage by stopping harmful reactions.

Beets are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and folate.

In the Kitchen

The earthy and sweet flavor balance well with acid, such as citrus juices or vinegars. It also goes well with a rich, creamy cheese, such as goat cheese and bleu cheese, and the slight bitterness of walnuts. Beets work well in salads, and work well this time of year with lettuce greens as an alternative to out-of-season toppings such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

Note that red beets can temporarily stain hands and work surfaces. You can wear gloves while working with beets, although the color will generally wash off easily while doing the dishes or other kitchen clean-up.

This Month’s Recipe

This month’s recipe, Citrus Beets, gets its flavor from another seasonal favorite, citrus. Oranges and grapefruit are in their peak during the winter months, and offer a refreshing change of pace. You can buy a whole fruit and juice half for the recipe, and enjoy the rest as a snack.

Citrus Beets

  • 2lbbeets (any color, but best with golden)
  • 2ozorange juice
  • 2ozgrapefruit juice
  • 1tspDijon mustard
  • 1Tbspbrown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Steam beets until they are soft; if they are unpeeled, peel beets.
  3. Combine the two juices.
  4. Add brown sugar and Dijon mustard to the juices. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour mixture over beets.
  6. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
Robert Kochan
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