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Beautiful Beets

Learn about beets and how to get the most from this great springtime root vegetable.


While beets may not be a favorite vegetable in your household, they’re beginning to emerge in markets and are worth trying again. Look for those with vibrant greens attached and cook them as you would spinach (the greens wilt rapidly and are often removed). The beets themselves should be firm with no signs of nicks or blemishes. Before storing, trim the greens to within an inch of the root (this helps prevent the beets from bleeding during cooking), and plan to cook the beets as soon as possible: the sugars convert to starch over time and lose flavor. The greens should be stored in a plastic bag for up to two days; don’t wash them until you’re ready to use.

Roasting beets concentrates their flavor and intensifies their sugars. To roast, place whole, unpeeled beets (look for ones similar in size so they cook at the same rate) on a large sheet of foil and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap the beets in the foil, place the packet in a baking dish and roast in a 425°F. oven until tender, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Unwrap the packet and let the beets cool until you can handle them then remove the skin with your fingers—it should come off easily (you may want to wear disposable gloves to keep your hands from turning pink!). Toss roasted beets in a salad (made with some of the beet greens!) with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts, or make a delightfully vibrant soup.