A generation ago most people’s experience of the beetroot was pickled on the side of an Irish salad plate. As it slowly stained the lettuce pink one could be forgiven for dismissing the humble beet. The earthy taste, and tendency to bleed, has meant that it is not a supermarket staple. However beetroot is a wonderful root veg packed with antioxidants. In season during late summer and early autumn you’ll find it gracing market stalls and good grocery shops. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or council allotment then it is an easy grow which produces edible roots and shoots. Here are three of my favourite beetroot recipes to help you use up the overstock.
This hearty central European soup has a wonderful sour kick. There is little agreement on what constitutes an authentic borscht with numerous regional variations. This is a simplified version which uses a combination of fresh and pickled beetroot but tailor the recipe to suit your larder.
1 medium onion 2 cloves of garlic 1 medium carrot 2 celery sticks 1 medium floury potato 2 fresh medium beetroots A small jar (200 g) of sliced pickled beetroot, including the vinegar 2 bay leaves 1.5 litres of stock, vegetable, chicken or beef but as good as you can get A splash of olive oil Sea salt (it just tastes better!) & freshly ground black pepper
1. Finely chop the onions, carrots, celery and potatoes and sweat over a medium heat until tender. 2. Add the bay leaves, crushed garlic and chopped fresh beetroot. Cook for another two minutes. 3. Add the pickled beetroot, keeping the pickling vinegar to one side, and the stock. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until the beetroot is tender. 4. Blend until smooth then add the vinegar to taste. Season with the salt and pepper. 5. Serve with hunks of sour dough bread, a swirl of sour cream or even a few toasted caraway seeds for the perfect antidote to Autumnal horizontal rain.
Not 100% raw energy salad ……………………………………………………….
This simple salad is the perfect lunch to revive flagging energy levels or just justify a slice of the beetroot cake below. The trick is to add the sunflower seeds while still hot. The heat makes some kind of magic happen with the vinegar and the result is wonderful.
2 large carrots 2 medium beetroots 3 or 4 tablespoons of sunflower seeds Olive oil Cider vinegar Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large bowl mix two parts olive oil with one part vinegar. Add the salt and pepper to taste. 2. Coarsely grate in the carrots and beetroots. Mix through the dressing. 3. Toast the sunflower seeds in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium-high heat until golden. 4. Add the toasted sunflower seeds to the beetroot and carrot mix, it should hiss. Stir well. 5. Serve with wheaten bread.
Beetroot Cake (aka Red Velvet Cake) ……………………………………………………….
Traditionally the addition of beetroot gave this cake its distinctive red colour. The chemical mix of coco has changed since but the of beetroot continues to keep the sponge devilishly moist. Serve with a dollop of tangy crème fraiche and drizzle with maple syrup.
1 cup or 2 medium boiled beetroots 1/3 cup of sunflower oil 1 egg, beaten 1 tsp of vanilla essence 1 cup of caster sugar 3 tbsp of coco powder 1 cup of self-raising flour 1/4 tsp of baking soda a pinch of salt
1. Place one cup of finely grated beetroot in a large bowl. 2. Add the oil, vanilla essence and the beaten egg. Stir well until thoroughly mixed. 3. Add the sugar and coco powder and stir gently until well mixed. 4. Gently fold in the flour and baking soda using a figure-of-eight motion. 5. Pour batter into a bread or cake tin. Bake in a pre-heated oven, 170°C, for about one hour.