Sunday Food: Chioggia Beets
Anyone who’s growing a garden this year has all the usual standards, except those that their area doesn’t favor. This can still be planted, and beets grow in time for your late summer salads.
I discovered these in a catalog, and found them in a nearby store, so it is my special plant of this growing season. They’re flavorful outside the ordinary veggie, and I have some very tasty ones.
Chioggia beets are made of of entirely edible roots, stems and leaves. The swollen dusty ruby colored globular root is topped with variegated pink and pistachio colored mid ribs and broad wavy green leaves. The flesh of the root is distinguished by its concentrated ring pattern of magenta pink and bone white. Chioggia beets inherently contain the highest content of geosmin, an organic compound which gives them a deep earthy flavor and aroma. Cooked Chioggia beets will not retain their brilliant coloring, rather fade to paler versions of their original colors.
All cultivated beets are descendents of the sea beet (B. maritima), a wild seashore plant found growing along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe and North Africa. The Chioggia beet is an Italian heirloom variety established circa 1840. It was named for the town in which it was first cultivated, the island fishing village of Chioggia, near the Lagoon of Venice. Chioggia beets grow best in a cool climate, though they can tolerate some heat. They should be well weeded though, as beets that fight weeds for growing space can become woody and stringy.
These are worth your time and will be spectacular additions to your menu.
Even kids should enjoy these, since they can be cut horizontally and go into bulls’ eyes – and you can encourage them to play with their food.