Eat Your Stripes (Chioggia Beets)

Few natural foods can be mistaken for bull’s eyes. But the Chioggia beet (pronounced kee-OH-gee-uh), is one of them, full of dramatic dark pink and white spirals.

Also known as candy cane or candy stripe beets, Chioggia beets are an heirloom varietal from Northern Italy. Notably, these root veggies do not “bleed” as much as regular beets, meaning easier cleanup and less worries about red juice staining your hands and clothes. Use Chioggia beets to add mild, earthy flavor and a pop of color to salads, soups and more.

Visit the Co-op’s Produce Department today and pick up some locally grown Chioggia beets from Boldly Grown Farm, available while supplies last. Get the most out of the Chioggia and be gentle when washing and don’t break the skin and let some nutrients escape. Choose smaller, more tender beets if serving raw for salad. Any size will work well for boiling, roasting and/or steaming in recipes.

Just Beet It: Preparing Chioggias

Beets are an excellent source of folate and a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Don’t forget to eat nutritious beet greens, too—much like you would eat spinach. Add raw beets can be grated to slaws or to make a quick and easy relish or garnish. For example: toss raw grated beet with chopped onion, vinegar and Dijon mustard to create a colorful accompaniment to corned beef or poultry.

Beets are popular in soups. Perhaps best known is Borscht, the traditional soup of Slavic countries, which can be enjoyed cold or hot. Try Elizabeth Tatarinoff’s Winter Borscht, hearty enough for the coldest days. Roasting brings out the sweetness of beets. They can often be roasted in advance of serving, making them a versatile addition to salads, like this colorful Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Beets & Pomegranate. Or simply serve sliced, roasted beets with curly endive and goat cheese.

Boiling is another option for cooking beets. And while they’re perfectly delicious as a side with just a spritz of lemon and a dash of pepper, they also make scrumptious pickles, gratins or even a pizza topping. Combined with ricotta cheese, kale and walnuts, boiled baby beets make a stellar Kale and Beet Pita Pizza, for example.

Chioggia Beet Salad

Photo & Recipe adapted from myrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 small Chioggia beets, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled/grated Mizythra/Myzithra or feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup torn mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts

Directions:

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add beets and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.

Roasted Chioggia Beets

Photo & recipe adapted from noshingwiththenolands.com

Ingredients:

  • 12-14 beets, depending on size
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice and chop beets into equal sizes and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Toss with the olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 30 min. until golden and cooked through. Serve immediately.

Beet Shopping & Storage Tips

Available almost year round, beets abound in the winter. Look for smooth, hard, uniformly round beets with no cuts, bruises, wet spots or shriveled skin. They should be bright and not too large (overgrown beets will be more fibrous). If they have their leaves, they should be bright green. If they have a large, hairy taproot, it means that the beet is probably overgrown and may be tough.

To store beets, trim the leaves two inches from the root and store them separately. While you’ll want to eat the leaves as soon as possible, the roots will keep in the refrigerator—in a plastic or produce bag—for up to three weeks. Just before cooking, wash the beets gently. If necessary, peel the skin after cooking (peeling isn’t always needed with smaller beets). To use the greens, wash them in running water to remove the dirt.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.