Beet the Challenge
Beets have the reputation of being one of the more challenging foods of which to acquire a taste for. They’re really one of those foods that is loved or despised, usually resulting from good or bad childhood dining experiences. Generally, the red beet is the most popular and recognizable, however there other delicious beet options – golden, white, and “candy stripe” beets.
Candy stripe beets (as they’re commonly referred in culinary environments) are formally called Chioggia beets. When sliced, they are red and white striped and have a sweeter taste than the red, golden, or white beet. The Chioggia beet hails from Chioggia, Italy and can be found in most specialty supermarkets.
This chilled beet salad will convince your taste buds how juicy and delicious beets can be, when prepared correctly. Sweet, tangy, savory, crunchy, and spicy, this salad has it all and is perfect for the heat of the summer.
Beets are a root vegetable, and the edible round portion of the vegetable is called the taproot. You’ll notice the edible taproot grows above ground, with a string of roots under the soil and an ample amount of greens growing out of the top of the taproot. Carrots, parsnips, and turnips are also taproots. Most often, the greens of taproots are discarded, however they are nutritionally dense and can also be added to soups and stews near the end of cooking.
While a raw beet is approximately 88% water, it still packs a powerful punch of vitamins and nutrients, predominantly vitamin B9 and folate. Folate is essential to the human body in that it assists in cell division. Without cell division, the body cannot form new DNA. Furthermore, folate is critical in preventing neural tube defects in embryo’s, such as spina bifida and cleft palate.
Other nutritional benefits of beets are high levels of magnesium, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6, potassium, and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Warmed beets also serve as a natural laxative.
Eat Your Colors
It is imperative that a variety of pigments of food are included in the diet. Each pigment of food has specific benefits and, when combined with other pigments, the vitamins and nutrients work synergistically, resulting in a balanced, nutritional diet. The four food pigments are chlorophyll (green), cartenoids (orange), anthoxanthins (yellow/white) and anthocyanins (red, purple).
Greens contain chlorophyll and provide iron and calcium. Kale (one of the most nutritionally dense foods), collards, arugula and spinach are a few of the chlorophyll pigmented foods. Orange foods provide cartenoids – carrots, pumpkin, and acorn squash – that are good for the eyes. White and pale yellow foods such as mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, and potatoes belong to the pigment anthoxanthins, and are believed to contribute to heart health. Red and purple foods – such as eggplant, beets, radishes – make up the anthocyanins and serve as antioxidants. This recipe provides three out of four of the pigments, plus healthy fats from the hazelnuts.
Sweet and Tangy Beet Salad (2 servings)
2 medium red beets
1 medium Chioggia beet
1 bag pre-washed arugula
1/2 red onion (sliced)
1/2 cup dry roasted hazelnuts (course chopped)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp white raspberry balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp malt or red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Turbinado sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Wash and cut the ends of the beets (removing greens and stems).
- Wrap whole beets in foil; bake 45 minutes and allow to cool.
- Peel orange and slice into segments. Slice red onion.
- Place orange segments and red onions in bowl; add balsamic vinegar.
- Combine and chill in refrigerator for 10 minute. Meanwhile, remove the cooled beats from the foil, then peel and slice them.
- In a saucepan, add sliced beets, sugar, and vinegar. Simmer and stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
- Place warm beets in a bowl and allow to cool.
- Coarse chop hazelnuts.
- Plate arugula. Arrange beets, oranges, and red onions atop arugula. Add hazelnuts and feta cheese.
- Drizzle remaining white raspberry balsamic vinegar over salad.
- This salad is extremely versatile. Exchange feta cheese for goat or Gorgonzola.
- Add poached salmon to incorporate more omega 3’s.
- Use various seeds or nuts: pumpkin seeds and walnuts work great in this dish.
- Malt vinegar can be substitute with distilled, apple cider, or red wine vinegar.
- This recipe can also be made by using high quality pickled beets, however, it is important to read the label to ensure there is no high fructose corn syrup.
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