in season


By Tara Swartzendruber-Landis / Photography By D. Lucas Landis | Last Updated October 04, 2017
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Many years ago I took a train from Moscow to Beijing in late fall.

While sightseeing in Moscow before the trip, I ate at a restaurant with a buffet of traditional salads. Storage vegetables were everywhere, and beets in particular played a central role in several dishes. The colors and flavors were creative and amazing. I marveled that even in November, when the ground was already frozen, here on display was one of the freshest meals I had eaten in months.

Beets grow below the soil and both the leaves and roots are edible. They have a truly earthy taste, and, like geodes, the outsides are plain—homely, even—but slice them open and you’ll find that beets come in a rainbow of startling colors. Beets deliver complex flavors—a bitter undertone paired 
with an intense sweetness coaxed out by roasting and, oddly enough, by adding acidity.

Popular in Eastern European cuisine, these cool-weather root vegetables are great for storage and add much-needed color to our fall and winter tables. Try golden beets for a milder earthiness, striped Chioggia beets in raw salads and dark red for roasting and pickling.

Selecting: Look for beets that are unblemished and firm. Tops (greens) should be full and fresh looking. Remove tops the day you purchase them and use within a day or two.

Eating: Raw, juiced, sautéed, boiled and roasted.

Storing: Beets can be stored in the refrigerator, unwashed and in covered containers, for two to three weeks. Beet greens will keep for two to three days.

Pairing: apples, arugula, basil, beans, beef, brown sugar, butter, cabbage, caraway seeds, carrots, cheese, chervil, chives, cilantro, citrus, cream, crème fraîche, cumin, curry, dill, eggs, fennel, feta cheese, garlic, ginger, goat cheese, greens, honey, horseradish, leeks, lemon, lemon thyme, lime, maple syrup, milk, mint, mustard, nutmeg, olive oil, olives, onion, orange, parsley, pasta, pears, pistachios, potatoes, radishes, rosemary, salt, shallot, sour cream, spinach, star anise, tarragon, thyme, vinegar, walnuts, white wine and yogurt. 

Raw Beet and Fennel Salad

This salad is a nice raw alternative to roasted beets. Putting the beets in separate bowls may feel a bit fussy, but the result will be a much nicer-looking salad.

Roasted Beet, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

This savory pie adds a new twist to homemade pizza night. Use a pizza stone or oiled baking sheet as the cooking base. Roast the beets (roots and a bit of stem still attached) wrapped in foil with...

Flourless Chocolate Beet Cake

I love desserts that take just a few ingredients from the pantry and farmers market to make an easy, sophisticated treat. This dense, moist cake plays well with the earthiness of raw beets. Serve this...

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