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Beets

(article, Caroline Cummins)

The beauty of beets is that they're in season practically all year long. You can eat them small and big; you can discard their greens or eat them, too. It's all good.

You can tackle beets in two ways: classic and adventurous. Beloved beet dishes in the classics department include roasted beets, a reliably delicious side dish, and borscht, an easy, classic soup whether served hot (in winter) or cold (in summer). Salad also benefits from a scattering of beets, either grated raw on a box grater (don't grate your knuckles off) or steamed and sliced into circles.

[%image beets float=left width=400 credit="Photo: iStockphoto/matka_Wariatka" caption="Beets and their greens."]

But if you get tired of these favorites — or you just can't bear to see those beet greens go to waste — try the shockingly colored Beet and Greens Pasta or the Mediterranean-inspired Beet Greens and Feta Phyllo Pockets with Yogurt Dill Dip.

Finally, some of us just can't get enough of that northern-European standby, the dish of marinated beetroot. Boil and marinate your beet slices in a simple sauce of rice-wine vinegar and a little sugar and salt, or get a bit fancier with Marinated Beetroot with Horseradish. Either works as a standalone salad, side dish, or condiment.

And if you're nervous about purple beet juice splattering everywhere, try this technique: Snip the greens and tails off your beets and put them, whole and unpeeled, into a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until just tender (anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the beets). Drain, then submerge in a large bowl of cold water. When the hot beets are cool enough to handle, stick your hands under the water and slip the skins off the beets. Rinse and dry the beets (with paper towels if you must) before slicing.


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