It was the last Farmers Market of 2011, and I was looking for an ingredient to make a festive, end of the year dish which would be both a flavorful and a visual end-of-season celebration. I found exactly what I needed at Alm Hill Gardens–chioggia (pronounced “kee-OH-jee-ah”) beets.
Chioggia beets, when cut across the middle, display beautiful concentric rings of deep red and white. They remind me of candy canes, which is one of their common names (candy cane beets). They are a little sweeter than red or yellow beets, too, so I decided to make candied chioggia beets. They can be served as a side dish, added to a salad, or you could even substitute some of the apple cider vinegar for apple cider syrup and have a very unique dessert.
Some people don’t like to prepare fresh beets because the color can stain hands and cutting boards. Chioggias are usually not as bad as red beets, but if you’re concerned you can use kitchen gloves or put your hands in sandwich bags if you want to avoid staining. I use a plastic cutting board for beets, which doesn’t keep a stain.
Be forewarned that beets are a “lightning rod” vegetable–people either really like them or really hate them. This probably isn’t a good party dish unless you have alternatives or really know your guests’ taste preferences.
Happy New Year!
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar (BelleWood Acres, Lynden)
- ½ cup honey (Red Barn Lavender Farm, Ferndale)
- 1 tsp dried mint leaves (mixed varieties, Tree Frog Farm, Lummi Island)
- 1 large chioggia beet (Alm Hill Gardens, Everson)
- In a small bowl, mix vinegar, honey and mint until honey is completely dissolved.
- Cut off the beet greens, leaving about an inch of stems attached, and remove the tiny part of the root. Peel the beet with a vegetable peeler.
- Using the attached stems as a handle, slice the beet very thinly, starting at the bottom so you can see circles of color in each slice. The pieces should be thin enough to be translucent, but not so thin that they break easily--about 1/16th of an inch is usually about right but you may need to experiment a little.
- In a glass baking dish, arrange the slices in thin, flat layers. Pour the vinegar and honey mixture over all. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, turning the beet slices once about halfway through to make sure the marinade touches every part of each slice.
- Drain thoroughly, and serve.
Serve as a side dish, add to a salad, or substitute some of the apple cider vinegar with apple cider syrup for a very unique holiday dessert.
Bellingham Farmers Market
Tree Frog Farm, Lummi Island