Look at this pretty striped vegetable! Artificially colored? Genetically modified? From an alien planet? No, it's a chiogga beet, also known as the candy cane beet and the bullseye beet, and it's a heirloom beet from Italy.
The chioggia beet came from the Italian coastal town of Chioggia, near Venice. It's been around since the early 19th-century. It tastes just like regular purple beets, maybe a little sweeter. The skin is a hot pink/fuchsia color, and when sliced open, the inside has beautiful pink and white stripes. Like any other beet, it can be prepared the same way; steamed, sauteed, roasted, and pickled. The greens are also edible. Sadly, the beautiful stripes fade when the beet is cooked.
I often find chiogga beets at the local farmer's markets, Whole Foods, and the local organic co-op. Seeds can also be purchased online if you'd like to add some to your garden.
Recipe: Roasted Beet Salad with Barley, Feta, and Red Onion
Recipe: Velvety Beet and Cocoa Cake
Seasonal Spotlight: Beets
Tip: Save the Beet Greens!
(Image: Kathryn Hill)