The beets - or more simply beets - are foods of plant origin belonging to the group of vegetables or greens. Their edible part is made up of the leaves and stems.
From a botanical point of view, beets are herbaceous plants belonging to the Chenopodiaceae family, Genus Beta, Species vulgaris; in practice, chard is a variety of beet (called cycle) identifiable with the binomial nomenclature Beta vulgaris cicla.
Beets are plant organisms with an annual or biennial cycle and their consumption involves cutting the leaves, without removing the root portion. At home level, during the whole cycle, the beets can be exploited for a number of times equal to the capacity to produce the leaves themselves; it is therefore a particularly profitable vegetable. As far as commercial production is concerned, on the other hand, as well as in the form of "bunches" of leaves, certain varieties (those with wide ribs) require the replacement of the entire plant.
Description and origins
Swiss chard has large, long, glossy, dark green leaves. The pigment of the ribs or stems varies between white, yellowish and reddish; the most common in Italy are white-stemmed, but there is a notable differentiation between regional crops.
Beets originate from the old continent, especially from Spain, France, Italy and the eastern Adriatic coast (up to and beyond Greece). This suggests that these vegetables prefer climates with wide range temperatures, humid, but never particularly stiff or torrid Beets are therefore suitable for cultivation in many parts of the globe, including Africa, America and Asia (in areas where the climate is temperate).
Beets have a sweetish flavor with more or less marked earthy hints (varying according to the type of soil used). Their preparation mainly uses boiling water; in some cases, this process can be limited to a simple bleaching (especially when the beets are aimed at integrating first courses and dishes). same (side dish), the beets must be processed completely in boiling water or steamed (with or without a pressure cooker).
To properly cook "ribbed" chard (with a wide and fleshy stem), it is advisable to separate the thicker fabric (which requires longer times) from the thin one (proper leaves, to be added later). The cooking water can be salted (but not too much) and enriched with lemon slices or white wine vinegar. After having drained them, it is then useful to let them dry. Once cooked, the beets can be eaten naturally, with oil of olive and / or lemon, or sautéed in a pan with olive oil, garlic and black pepper. The combination of chard and boiled potatoes is extremely pleasant.
Beets are a widely used ingredient for first courses such as: soups, minestrone and sauces for dry pasta.
Cooking by immersion significantly deprives them of their content in thermolabile vitamins (degraded) and mineral salts (diluted). The remaining water, if tasteless, is an excellent fertilizer for ornamental plants or vegetables.
Swiss chard is a low-energy food; these calories essentially come from simple carbohydrates (fructose), while proteins and lipids are lacking.
The intake of fiber is more than satisfactory. The content in vitamins (especially A, C and small doses of some of the B group) and mineral salts (mainly potassium and iron) is also interesting. However, as anticipated, we reiterate that cooking in water strongly limits the conservation of certain nutrients and that their degradation / dispersion impoverishes the food.
Being lacking in sodium and rich in potassium, beets are suitable for feeding against arterial hypertension; moreover, thanks to the content of dietary fiber, they help to lower the glycemic index of the meal, to regulate lipid absorption and to favor the sense of satiety. Swiss chard are therefore useful foods for the diet against hyperlipemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus and overweight.
Nutritional composition per 100g of raw chard; Chard cooked, boiled without salt - Reference values of the INRAN Food Composition Tables
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