Meet the queen of beets

CHRIS FORTUNE
Last updated 09:05 06/01/2011
Market

The chioggia beetroot is the queen of all beets and can be found on the stall of Sharyn and Neville White, who grow and sell heirloom vegetables and fruits.

BEETROOT
Sweet beet: Chioggia beetroot has concentric rings of red and white flesh, and can be eaten raw.

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Chioggia beetroot has been heaven-sent at the Marlborough Farmers' Market. Those who have only ever eaten tinned beetroot are missing out on a real taste of summer.

The chioggia beetroot is the queen of all beets and can be found on the stall of Sharyn and Neville White, who grow and sell heirloom vegetables and fruits.

An Italian variety that is best eaten raw (the beetroot does fade to light pink when cooked though), it is proving to be a popular addition to the dinner table during the summer months.

Sliced thinly or grated it is a very sweet tasting variety that does not bleed or stain your hands like other beets (10 points already). The young beetroot leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach/chard, adding a nice texture to your summer creations.

Chioggia is a sweet, round beet with a smooth, light red skin. The inside has concentric rings of red and white flesh with fluctuations in temperature enhancing these zones of colour.

This little-known beet comes from the coastal region of the Adriatic near Chioggia in Italy, hence its name.

Beetroot is a very highly regarded vegetable throughout the world for its health properties, and can be found in a multitude of colours from red or purple to yellow, with different countries producing different varieties, sizes and colours.

When consumed as a juice, beetroot offers many benefits and has plenty of nutrients including vitamin C, proteins, antioxidants, amino acids, sodium, potassium, silica, phosphorus and iron.

The deep red colour of beetroot is because of the antioxidant betacyanin. This antioxidant is essential for blood formation and a major benefit of beetroot is that it reduces anaemia (when the number of healthy red blood cells decreases).

Consumption of beetroot on a regular basis will help give you a healthy heart as it is loaded with plenty of vitamin C and other goodies.

Ask Sharyn and Neville what their favourite way of using the beet is.

BEETROOT AND PUMPKIN SUMMER SALAD

200g beetroot, scrubbed and grated raw

300g pumpkin, peeled and grated raw

1 large apple or pear, sliced thinly

100g red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

Handful of freshly picked parsley and/or mint, chopped

Juice and zest of one lemon

Drizzle of Marlborough olive oil

Sprinkle of Marlborough sea salt

Mix all ingredients well

Chill for 30 minutes before serving with chicken, seafood or lamb.

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- The Marlborough Express

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