Fresh Chioggia beets from the Boulder farmers' market were the impetus for this delicious summer side dish. You can grill other varieties of beets, but Chioggias are my current favorite, both for their beauty and flavor. The Chioggia beet is an heirloom variety that originated in a coastal town in Italy by the same name. With an early maturity of about 55-65 days, these beets start appearing in our local farmers' markets in mid to late June.
I simmer beets prior to grilling them. Take care not to over-cook Chioggias if you are used to preparing deep red varieties. Chioggia beets are more tender and require less cooking time than their deeper-colored cousins.
I recently served Grilled Beets with Balsamic Vinegar as an accompaniment to grilled fish. The flavors in this dish pop at room temperature so, conveniently, you can prepare it prior to grilling meat and fish and set the beets and greens aside.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
1 bunch of fresh Chioggia beets (about 7-8 medium)
1 T olive oil
1/8 t black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 t salt
2 T balsamic vinegar
Cut off beet greens about 1/2 inch from bulbs. Scrub beets thoroughly. Wash and drain greens; set aside. Place beets in medium sauce pan, cover with water. Bring to boil and let simmer 20-25 minutes until just tender. Remove from heat; drain and cover with cold water. When cool, peel skin from beets. Skin should peel off easily, revealing beautiful pink and orange hues.
Place beet greens in medium sauce pan; add water to about 1 inch depth. Bring to boil and let simmer 15 minutes. Drain beet greens and set aside.
Preheat grill. Place beets on a cutting board and slice into quarters. Chioggas have dramatic striping, which shows well whether quartered or sliced crosswise.
About 3 minutes before grilling, place grilling tray on grill to preheat. Place quartered beets in medium mixing bowl; add oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Spread beets on preheated grilling tray.
Grill about 5 minutes, turning several times. Remove from grill when edges begin to brown.
Plate individual portions by centering beet greens and arranging beets on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar just before serving.
Per-serving Nutritional Profile:
Fat, 3.5 g
Saturated Fat, .5 g
Cholesterol, 0 mg
Carbs, 15 g
Dietary Fiber, 4 g
Protein, 4 g
Sodium, 400 mg
Vitamin A, 110% Daily Value
Vitamin C, 35% Daily Value
Calcium, 10% Daily Value
Iron, 15% Daily Value