Ah, the imperfect glory of colorful, divisive beets - so despised by some yet deemed utterly delicious by others. Few foods have such ardent fans and eaters willing to express their distain. In which camp do you sit? If you are the latter and it is based on an earlier canned experience, we now implore you to give them another try.

For us it is an easy choice. This time of the year they are perfect little treasures. Whether roasted in the oven, steamed or shredded raw, they are welcome to add a nutritional punch to any meal. In addition to the root portion cooked in any of the ways listed above, the leaves of the plant are wonderful sautéed with shallots. To keep everything fresh, trim the leaves off the root when you get them home or they may drain moisture from the roots. At the farmers markets, in addition to the standard issue red beets, you can look for golden yellow, candy striped chioggia, or dark blue-ish bull’s blood varieties. Try stopping by Paffenroth Farms if you go to the Union Square Greenmarket; they stock the wide variety listed above.

Basic root preparation for 1 bunch:

1) Preheat over to 325 degrees.
2) Wash beets removing hairs, tips and very top by stem.
3) Wrap beets in foil with 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon sea salt and whole coriander, and 4 sprigs fresh thyme.
4) Roast for at least 1 hour then check for doneness by inserting the tip of a knife. Done when just easily inserted.
5) Cool and carefully peel the outermost layer of the root.

TIP – you can also steam the beets and it will take slightly less time.

Here are some preferred uses:

- Chilled and added to a composed market salad of numerous items.
- Served warm simply with butter and sea salt.
- Sliced thin as you would carpaccio, layered on a plate, topped with arugula, toasted pine nuts, O&V, and dollops of fresh ricotta cheese.
- Of course you can try any of these ethnic takes on beets – Russian, Equadorian or Italian.