Lezlie Sterling / lsterling@sacbee.com

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  • Beet and ginger relish Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 40 minutes Makes: 2 1/4 cups A recipe from the “Forgotten Skills of Cooking,” by Darina Allen. The relish can be refrigerated for about 2 months. Serve cold. INGREDIENTS 8 ounces onion, chopped 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper 1 pound raw beets, peeled, grated 1 piece (1/2-inch) ginger root, grated 1/2 cup red wine 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar INSTRUCTIONS

    Combine onions and butter in a nonreactive saucepan; cook over medium-low heat until onions are very soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar, salt and pepper. Add beets, ginger, red wine and vinegar; cook over low heat 30 minutes. Spoon relish into sterilized jars. Seal; let cool.

    Per 2 tablespoons: 37 calories, 45 percent of calories from fat, 2 grams fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams carbohydrates, 79 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber Wilted spinach salad with roasted beets and walnuts Roasting enhances the earthy, sweet flavor of beets. Place them unpeeled in a roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 45 to 75 minutes depending on the size of the beets, or until they are tender. Let them cool for 30 minutes and they should slip right out of their skins. INGREDIENTS 2 bunches medium beets (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and tops trimmed 1/4 cup walnut pieces 1 pound spinach, stems removed 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced 2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives (about 10 olives) 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and minced 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar Ground black pepper, to taste INSTRUCTIONS

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the beets in a roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Uncover and let cool for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over low heat, toast the walnuts until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel off and discard skins. Cut beets into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

    Place the spinach in a large bowl.

    In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and sauté until soft and slightly translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the olives, capers and garlic and sauté 1 minute.

    Stir in the balsamic vinegar and beets. Cook for 5 minutes more. Remove skillet from heat and pour beet mixture over spinach; toss well. Season with the black pepper and serve topped with toasted walnuts.

    Per serving: 191 calories,77 calories from fat; 9 grams fat, 26 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 7 grams fiber, 291 milligrams sodium Shredded beet salad with orange-cranberry dressing Serves: 4 Salad is best made two days ahead to allow the flavors to develop to their fullest. INGREDIENTS Zest of 1/2 orange 1/2 cup cranberries 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar 1/3 cup orange juice 2 teaspoons safflower oil 2 teaspoons water 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4 teaspoon salt Dash cayenne 4 medium beets, scrubbed, trimmed and shredded to get about 4 cups INSTRUCTIONS

    Mince orange zest with cranberries and sugar in blender or food processor fitted with metal blade. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add orange juice, oil, water, mustard, salt, cayenne and beets. Mix well.

    To serve, toss well and adjust seasonings to taste.

    Per serving: 104 calories, 2 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat, 258 milligrams sodium California Borscht Serves: 6 to 8 INGREDIENTS 1 bunch red beets 4 to 5 medium yellow potatoes 3 to 4 carrots 2 stalks celery 3 yellow onions 1 medium head cabbage or beet greens olive oil apple cider vinegar (to taste) salt and pepper INSTRUCTIONS

    Wash the beets, potatoes, carrots and celery under running water. If desired, peel the beets after washing.

    Chop the potatoes and beets into bite-sized pieces and place in a pot. Cover with water, plus a few extra cups. Cover and bring to a boil; simmer until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

    Chop the onions. Heat a large pot on medium-high, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the warm pot, and add the onions and optional caraway seeds. Cook for 5 minutes. Add about 1 tsp. of salt and turn the heat down to medium, stirring occasionally.

    Meanwhile, chop the carrots and celery. Set aside. To chop the cabbage: cut in half from top to bottom. Cut out the hard bottom core on each half using diagonal slices. Lay each half flat, cut in half top to bottom, then make cross-wise cuts into thin strips. Wash the cabbage in a colander. Beet greens may be used instead of cabbage.

    When the onions have turned translucent or slightly browned, add the chopped carrots, celery, and cabbage. If desired, add the canned tomatoes or paste. Spoon in a few cups of the beet-potato water, add another teaspoon of salt, and stir until mixed. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Add the beets, potatoes, and liquid. Add cider vinegar and black pepper. Simmer for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste to adjust salt and vinegar.

    Roasted golden beets with orange-herb butter Serves: 4 INGREDIENTS 4 golden beets, or red or chiogga beets 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice 1 teaspoon grated orange peel 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh dill 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh basil INSTRUCTIONS

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub beets and prick with fork. Place on baking sheet or directly on oven rack and roast whole for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, orange juice, orange peel, dill and basil. Let beets cool slightly; peel and dice. Drizzle with butter mixture.

    Per serving: 49 calories, 1 gram protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 68 milligrams sodium, 52 percent calories from fat Beet and chevre sandwiches From “The Quarter-Acre Farm” by Spring Warren. INGREDIENTS Several small to medium beets: red, golden or chiogga Balsamic vinegar and olive oil A loaf of crusty sourdough bread Goat cheese INSTRUCTIONS

    Cut the beet leaves from the beet root about an inch from the crown, making sure you don’t cut into the beet itself. Set aside the most tender beet greens.

    Gently boil the whole beets for 15 to 30 minutes, until a fork pierces the root easily (or roast them at 425 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes until they are fork tender).

    When they’ve cooled, the skins will slip off easily. Dice the cooled beet, cut the tender beet greens into chiffonade, then combine and toss the mixture with a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

    Spread a thick layer of goat cheese between two pieces of bread and grill on a panini press or stove-top grill. When the sandwich is hot, remove to a plate, open the sandwich and spoon the beet mixture on top of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and place the second piece of bread back on top – or spoon the beet mixture on both halves of the sandwich and serve open-faced.

Beet recipes

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 - 8:37 pm

In season in California: June to November

How to choose good beets: Roots should be firm, skin smooth. Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Pick beets similar in size to ensure even cooking.

Taste: Beets' sweet taste reflects their high sugar content. Raw beet roots have a crunchy texture that turns soft and buttery when cooked.

Health benefits: This colorful root vegetable contains powerful nutrient compounds that research has shown help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer. One beet that is two inches in diameter contains about 35 calories, 6 grams of sugar and 2 grams of dietary fiber. Beets are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and are a good source of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, folate, potassium and manganese.

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