Naturally sweet when cooked, beets contain abundant nutrients, particularly folate, potassium, and fiber. Buy dry, firm, smooth ones—better if they're on the small side. Attached greens should look lively. Store, refrigerated in plastic, for up to three weeks.

Roasting concentrates beets' sweetness and creamy texture. Wash gently and leave whole to avoid releasing juices. Place on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees until tender throughout, 45-60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, rub off skins with a paper towel.

Combine cooked, thinly sliced beets with crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and a splash of fresh orange juice or balsamic vinegar for an easy side dish.

Don't discard those supernutritious beet greens! Trim from beets (they draw out moisture), leaving an inch or two of stem. Then sauté as you would chard or spinach.

Photo: jeff padrick