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The rise of the great, red beet

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  Notice something red in your greens lately? Beets have been showing up on lots of Denver menus, mostly in salads, decorated with goat cheese and nuts.

Gelman's Restaurant serves a version with green beans and onions, Jonesy's Eat Bar lets the red and gold beets shine without too much dressing, and Lala's Wine Bar and Pizzeria adds tangerines for an even sweeter taste.

This is great news for fans of the highly underrated root veggie, which is enjoying a sort of renaissance in foodie circles. If you grew up with lumpy borscht or a strange, pickled side dish, get ready to be surprised.

Chef Michael Symon of Cleveland, of Iron Chef America fame, is a huge fan of the beet, elevating it to gourmet status in his Food Network appearances. He has discovered what, in my humble opinion, is the best way to prepare beets -- basted with a little olive oil, and roasted. This brings out their deep, juicy flavor, and leaves the veggies sweet and tender enough to pose as dessert. Symon serves them roasted with blue cheese and even has a recipe for spicy beet ice cream.

Alas, these popular red veggies are not the sugar beets for which Colorado is famous, but they are still native plants. According to Colorado State University, one harvest time along the Front Range is September and October -- which may explain why I've been eating so many lately. -- Lisa Rab

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