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When you buy beets with the greens attached you are actually getting two veggies for the price of one. Beetroots can be simmered in stews, roasted, steamed, boiled or braised.  They can also be used uncooked and shredded for salads or squeezed into juice. Their greens can be sautéed or cooked like any other green and are really quite nutritious. 

Ever wonder what to do with beets. Following is a recipe that my family loves.   

Roasted Beets, Red Onion and Blue Cheese Salad
with a Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 6 

For the dressing: 

            3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
            1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
            1 teaspoon minced garlic
             teaspoon salt
            ½ teaspoon large grind black pepper
            3 tablespoons olive oil

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.  Whisk to blend. While continuing to whisk, slowly add olive oil. Set aside.  

For the beets: 

            12 small beets
            3 tablespoons olive oil
            1 teaspoon minced garlic
            ½ teaspoon salt
            ½ teaspoon large grind black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove greens and reserve for cooking later. Wash beets well, peeling off any bad spots and leaving skins on. In a medium baking dish, toss beets with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake beets at 350 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes or until beets are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven, cool, and peel. 

For the salad:  

            12 small beets, roasted, peeled, and cut in half
            ¾ cup red onion, chopped
            ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
            6 cups Spring mix greens 

In a large salad bowl, combine beets, red onion, blue cheese and greens. Drizzle with dressing, toss, and serve immediately.  

Shopping: Choose small, firm beets with bright green leaves that show no signs of wilting. The taproot should still be attached. Avoid large beets that have a hairy taproot.  This is an indication of age and toughness. If beets are larger than 1½ to 2 inches in diameter, they will likely have a tough, woody center. Smaller beets are more tender and sweeter.  Pass up beets that have scales or spots. To ensure even cooking, select beets that are uniform in size.  

Storing: Upon arriving home, trim the leaves 2 inches from the root. The leaves will suck moisture from the beets. Do not trim the tail. If you like, you can store the leaves in a separate plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. Use these leaves within 2 days. When placed in plastic bags and stored in the crisper of your refrigerator, beetroot bulbs will keep up to 3 weeks if dry.    

Washing and cooking:  Wash beets gently as their skin is fragile.  If the skin is not broken during the washing process or removed for cooking, beets will retain more nutrition and color.  The skin of beets will easily rub off under cold running water or when rubbed gently with a paper towel. Leave at least an inch of the leaf stem when you cook beets.  Remove the leaf stem before serving.  

Carol Ann Kates is the author of award-winning Secret Recipes from the Corner Market selected as one of the top ten favorite cookbooks by the Denver Post Food Staff. 

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