Okay, so I know I waxed eloquent about Golden Beets only recently and complained about the earthy, bloody mess that is dark red beets, but how cute are these!
They look like something out of Willy Wonka or Candyland. I want to skip through the Vegetable Forest, leaping between Chioggia stepping stones.
They’re called Chioggia or Candy Cane Beets, and they’re just like all the other beets except much, much prettier. Look at these stems!
I hope I can find some when Valentine’s Day comes around because I always end up serving tomato soup as the vegetable, and these are much more romantic looking. (Oooo! I could cut them into heart shapes! Alright, I’ve gone over the edge… I’m not sure how a vegetable gets romantic in the first place… I don’t think I want to know.)
Chioggias are more of a fuchsia or deep pink color on the outside than their bloody brethren, so if there are three kinds of beets lined up, golden will be orange-ish, traditional beets will be maroon colored, and these will be the paler red/hot pink kind you see in between. (I only bought Chioggias and Golden, so no dark red beets in the picture to the left, just Golden for comparison.)
They also typically have candy cane stripes at the base of the greens where it meets the root, though they don’t have to:Once peeled, the resulting nugget can be almost all white like a potato, or deep pink stripes – the whiter ones will have paler or less pronounced pink stripes once you cut into the center; the deeper ones will make the really eye-catching slices. The flavor isn’t as nutty as golden beets nor as earthy as red beets – frankly, they’re simply blander, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They make the best chips, in my opinion, since non-beet eaters won’t be turned off by them. As much as I love Golden Beets, they do have a distinct beet-ish flavor. Candy Cane beets are milder and probably a better intro beet for those who really, really are afraid to try beets, though the more red they have (i.e. the more pronounced, eye-catching stripes) the more beet-like they will taste. But, who cares? Look how cute!
My biggest issue with Candy Cane beets is really an issue with my food processor. I have a lovely slicing blade that should have made me beet chips in 5 seconds flat, but the beets are too round to go in properly. The whole setup is designed for oblong things like sweet potatoes or zucchini. Arrgh. So in the meantime while I look on Amazon for a new lid, I had to handslice my beets to get them to look pretty, which is annoying because I have approximately Zero knife skills. I can’t make even slices if my life depended on it. (Which would be an odd way to threaten someone, I suppose: “Cut this beet right or I’ll kill you!”)
Regardless, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered in foil, and roast at 400 or 450 until slightly crispy, about 20 minutes. I like to flip mine halfway through so they crisp up on both sides, but if you’re not a good flipper (I am not), you don’t have to. They’ll still taste good. Unless you own a mandoline or some other device (like knife skills, perhaps) that will allow you to get uniform, very thin slices, they’re not going to get crisp like chips – they’ll crisp up on the edges, but the centers will remain slightly soft. That’s okay. Sprinkle with salt and munch away.
Note: The cuteness will fade as they cook – the colors become more muted, especially at the higher heat that also will give them brown crispy spots. If you’re trying to impress someone, stick to the reddest slices you’ve got – the paler whiter ones will be brownish and unimpressive once roasted.
Info on peeling, seasonality, etc. is the same as Golden Beets. Enjoy!