Next week’s ingredient is… COUS COUS! Send your recipes to Edwina and Will at email@example.com by Friday, 25 May.
History and product info
Beetroot (beet, table beet, garden beet) is one of the modern cultivars of Beta vulgaris which originally grew in coastal areas of Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Its leafy cousins include chards which were first used as leaf vegetables. Today the sugar beet (another cousin) account for half the worlds sugar production. The beet plant is a biennial which means it normally lives for 2 years, but we cultivate it as an annual for its tuberous root.
Beetroots have many uses, including material and food dyes. More important is their nutritional value. Beetroots have low calories and a good variety of vitamins and minerals, including folate. Due to their nitrate content they are not recommended for children under 6 months.
Ever since the Romans started drinking beetroot juice, beetroot has been applied to almost every medical complaint known to humankind. More recently beetroot has been demonstrated in the medical literature to be beneficial as an anticarcinogen and antimutagenic, assisting in the prevention and treatment of cancer. It is also thought to boost the immune system. Feel free to test the rumours that it is also an aphrodisiac.
For all of this and more information, check out Stephen Nottingham's excellent ebook on this marvellous, diverse vegetable:
Storage and tips
- Choose beetroot that is unblemished, with firm roots. While you can eat damaged beetroot, they won’t store well. Small to medium beetroots have the sweetest flavour.
- Store beetroot in the fridge or in a cool, dark place. They will keep for a few weeks if fresh.
- Beetroots can be eaten raw or cooked and the leaves can be used in salads. Don’t peel beetroots or completely remove their stalks before cooking to prevent them from losing their colour.
- Beetroots can be baked in a moderate oven or boiled. The length of time will depend on the size of your beetroot.
See also previous Ingredient of the Week recipe for Warm beetroot and quinoa tabouleh:
Shefali's baked beetroot (from Alice)
Take 455g fresh beetroot (approx golf ball sized, scrubbed), place in a foil parcel (the recipe suggests 1.5m of foil folded in half to double thickness, but I also use an oven dish with a lid and it works almost as well, aluminium smelting is evil!)
Add 10cloves of garlic unpeeled and squashed a handful of fresh marjoram/oregano leaves salt and pepper to season fold sides of foil into the middle, and before sealing, add 10tbs balsamic vinegar, 6tbs olive oil.
Scrunch foil to seal.
Cook 1 hour until tender (moderate oven).
Alice’s beetroot tips
- Beetroot hommus is also great. I don't have the exact recipe on me, but you basically add beetroot to hommus and a bit less liquid than
usual. It goes bright pink!
- Grated raw in salads…
Beetroot and Feta Risotto (from Will)
- 400g Arborio rice
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 100g diced Danish Feta (1cm cubes)
- 2 litres vegetable stock
- 30 mL olive oil
- 50g diced butter
- 100g Parmessan cheese, finely grated
- 4 medium sized beetroots
- extra olive oil for roasting
- continental (italian) parsley to serve
- Drizzle beetroot (skin on) with a little olive oil and roast at 200oC for 30-40 minutes until tender. Allow to cool and then skin.
- Dice beetroot into 1cm cubes and split in half
- Bring vegetable stock to the boil and add half the diced beetroot. Simmer for 20 minutes and strain. Discard the beetroot. Return to boil.
- In a separate saucepan heat the oil, then cook the garlic and onion until soft, then add the rice and lower the temperature to a medium heat.
- Keep the rice moving gently until it is nice and glossy, then add the white wine. Cook down until all of the white wine has been absorbed.
- Start adding stock 200mL (about 2 ladle-fulls) at a time, stirring slowly but continually. Once this stock is absorbed add more, a ladle or two at a time.
- Once about half the stock is gone add the remaining diced beetroot (or if you prefer less beetroot flavour add it at the end with the parmesan cheese and feta).
- Keep adding stock until the risotto is at your preferred eating texture (I normally cook it so that it is slightly more cooked than al dente but before it becomes too mushy).
- Add the diced butter, feta, and parmesan cheese (and beetroot if you haven't already), along with salt and pepper to taste. Leave to rest for 2 minutes then serve with a little parmesan and continental parsley sprinkled over the top.
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 4 (about 500g) beetroot, peeled, quartered
- 1 carrot, peeled, chopped
- 1 parsnip, peeled, cut into chunks
- 1 leek, white part only, sliced
- 1 onion, peeled, chopped
- 1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 cups (1.5L) beef or vegetable stock
- 1 cup (250ml) sour cream
- 4 tbs chopped dill
- Rye bread, to serve
Place the beetroot, carrot, parsnip, leek, onion, lemon juice, spices and bay leaves in a large saucepan with the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Cool slightly, then blend in batches and season well with salt and pepper. Return to saucepan and gently heat through. Place in bowls and garnish with sour cream and dill. Serve with rye bread.
Source: Valli Little, delicious. August 2003, p 117
Warm beetroot, bean & walnut salad
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 300g French beans, ends trimmed
- 3 large beetroot, cooked, peeled, sliced into 1cm-thick rounds
- 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
- 2 tbs walnut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted
Blanch beans in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 1 minute, then drain and refresh. Toss together with beetroot and place on serving plates. Combine oils and vinegar with salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.
Source: Vali Little, delicious. April 2004, p 64.
Kumara scones with beetroot jam
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 45g unsalted butter
- 1 cup cooked mashed sweet kumara
- 150ml buttermilk
- Beetroot jam, to serve (recipe follows)
- Creme fraiche, to serve
- Thyme leaves, to garnish
- 15g unsalted butter
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 110g thinly sliced onion
- 150g raw beetroot, grated
- 2 dried chillies
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tbs caster sugar
- 2 tbs sherry vinegar
- To make the beetroot jam, melt the butter and oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, beetroot, chilli and thyme and sweat over very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar and continue to cook for 20 minutes until thick and jammy. Remove chillies and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips until you have fine breadcrumbs. Add the kumara and enough buttermilk to make a smooth and slightly sticky dough - don't overwork. Transfer onto a lightly floured workbench and roll out to 1.5cm thickness. Use a 5cm scone cutter to cut out about 16 scones.
- Place on a lightly greased and floured baking tray, brush with any remaining buttermilk and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
- When ready to serve, break in half and top with beetroot jam and creme fraiche and garnish with a small thyme leaf. Leftover scones can be frozen.
* You can make the beetroot jam ahead of time; it will keep for 1 month, refrigerated, in sterilised jars.
Source: Valli Little, delicious. October 2002, p 146.