Thursday, August 31, 2017

Slice and Dice: Beets

"The lesson of the beet, then, is this: hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic..." Tom Robbins
 From the outside, beets fail to leave a lasting impression. In fact, they range from dull to downright curmudgeonly. Who wants that, when you can opt for cheery tomatoes or regally robbed eggplants? Well, as many cooks know, it’s foolish to judge a root vegetable by its cover. Despite their drab exterior, beets possess a beguilingly sweet, earthy flavor. They bring a jewel-like beauty to the table (think garnets and coral) and plenty of substance, including folate and fiber. 

How to Select and Store Beets

Select firm beets with wrinkle-free skin. If you find them with their greens intact, look for vibrant, succulent leaves, and consider yourself lucky: the antioxidant-rich greens are edible so you're getting two-for-one. Use them as a fiber-rich filler in soups, omelets, and stir-fries. 

Beets can be stored in the refrigerator loose and unwashed for up to a week. Cut off the greens first, leaving an inch of the stem intact to keep their stain-inducing juice from leaking into your fridge. Store the greens in a breathable bag in the fridge for up to two days.

How to Steam Beets

If the beet greens are attached, cut them with an inch of the stem still intact.

Thoroughly wash the beets. 

Fill a large pot with a few inches of water. Place the beets in a steamer insert in the pot and cover.

Simmer the beets until they are easily pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes to an hour for medium-sized beets. The skin may appear to pull away slightly. If needed, add more water during the cooking process.

Remove from the pot from the stove and allow the beets to cool.

Beet juice will stain your fingers. Put on a pair of plastic gloves to keep your hand from getting dyed.

Gently rub off the skin with your fingers.

How to Slice Beets

Slice off the stems and root end of cooked beets.

Place the beet on the cutting board root-side down. Slice across it every half inch or at larger intervals for thicker slices.

Wash your cutting board immediately as beet juice stains.

How to Dice Beets

Slice off the stem and root ends of cooked beets. Place the beet on the cutting board root-side down. Slice across the beet at every half inch.

Stack two beet slices on the cutting board. Cut across them widthwise at every half inch. Rotate the batons 90 degrees and slice across them lengthwise every half inch. 

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