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Beets brighten early spring meals

Cara Cara oranges and roasted beets combine in a colorful, healthy spring salad. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Recipe: Roasted beet and citrus salad is healthy comfort food

Beets are good for what ails you.

I got that advice often from my grandmother, who swore by beets as a universal tonic. (Borscht, anyone?)

Beets are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, making them a healthy comfort food. This early spring salad makes the most of their naturally sweet flavor, brought out by roasting.

Wedges of roasted beet are lightly tossed with citrus supremes (sections trimmed of any membrane) and a citrus vinaigrette. For this version, I used Cara Cara oranges, which have a pink hue to their sweet flesh. Red grapefruit or navel oranges work well, too.

The beets and citrus top a bed of baby spinach; baby arugula, lettuce or other greens may be substituted, also.

A word of warning: Beets turn everything pink. That includes your hands, clothes and cutting surfaces. Wear gloves and an apron while handling these vegetables.

After roasting, the beets should be cooled and peeled.
Easy roasted beets: Wash beets well, scrubbing off any dirt. Trim off tops, leaving about a half inch attached to the beet. (Save the greens; they’re great slow-cooked.) Trim off tap root.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wrap beets in foil individually or, if small, in pairs. Place wrapped beets on a rimmed cookie sheet and put in oven. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, or until beets are easily pierced with a skewer or thin blade.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Peel beets; the skins will slip right off.

Another tip: To avoid getting pink beet stains everywhere, hold the beet with a paper towel and rub the skin off with a corner of the paper towel.

Beets are two vegetables in one: Save the
tops for another recipe.
Roasted beets and citrus salad
Makes 4 servings


1 pound beets (about 4)

2 Cara Cara oranges or 1 red grapefruit, cut into sections or supremes

4 cups baby spinach or salad greens


¼ cup orange or grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 dash Tabasco

Salt and pepper to taste


Roast beets, as directed above. (This can be done the night before.) After beets are peeled, chill until ready to assemble salad.

Cut beets into wedges. Place beets in bowl with citrus sections or supremes.

Make vinaigrette. In a jar, put all ingredients. Cover jar and shake until blended.

Add vinaigrette to beets and citrus; lightly toss.

Put spinach or greens on salad plates. Top with beet-citrus mixture.

Serve immediately.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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