Beetroot was, to me, one of those things old people ate in the 1970’s. Like brawn, or tongue, or cockles in a small bumpy jar. Also, to be honest, I found it rather intimidating, it was going to turn me purple, it was going to turn my wee purple and I thought you had to cook it for a week. So yes, I had a fairly significant beetroot prejudice and it was only this year that I decided I had better put that to one side and try and cook the damn things as part of my Turkish Yearbook experiment in seasonal cooking.
Turns out beetroot is a lot less fuss than I thought and if you cook it unpeeled, either roasted or boiled, it is then easy to handle, sweet and delish, pretty, and packed full of nutrients. It is also ever so on trend as according to The Telegraph purple food is in!
Here I’ve tried a rather unusual sweet chutney recipe that makes an amazingly coloured preserve, and a roast beetroot and garlic recipe which is surprising sophisticated and light years away from the sour pickled beetroot that stained our plates as children.
Glazed Roast Beetroot
This recipe uses one of my favourite flavours, roast garlic, and the sweetness of the garlic and the beetroot contrasts with the richness of the balsamic glaze. If you can’t be bothered to do a glaze just roast beetroot with unpeeled cloves of garlic then serve simply sliced with a drizzle of good olive oil.
For the Beetroots
Six unpeeled beetroots
Six unpeeled cloves of garlic
Couple of unpeeled onions
Sprig of rosemary
Basically you take all of the above, throw them in a high sided baking tin, shake around until every thing is coated in the oil and put in a medium oven for about an hour to hour and a half. The beets will be cooked when a skewer passes through them easily.
Remove from the oven, wait until the beets and onions are cool enough to handle and then rub their skins off, slice them thinly (I use an egg slicer if they’re not too big) and arrange in a shallow dish.
Deglazing of baking tin time!
For the Glaze
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Splash of chicken stock
Teaspoon of sugar
Put the baking tin you cooked the beets in onto the hob over a low heat, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and chicken stock (around two tablespoons balsamic and four tablespoons stock) and using a spatula scrape all the flavours of oil and beets and onions off the base of the pan to combine. Squash the garlic cloves and fish out their skins as the glaze cooks.
Let the glaze cook down until it is syrupy and then pour over the beets and onions.
Can be served either hot or cold, as part of a selection of mezes or as an accompaniment to cold meats and salads.
This is so easy and so incredibly pretty and has an amazing rich flavour.
3lb Boiled beetroot cut into small chunks – boil the unpeeled beetroot in unsalted water for about 40 minutes, allow to cool and then rub off the skins.
1lb Apples cut into chunks
1lb onions thinly sliced
Juice and rind of one lemon
500ml vinegar (apple)
8oz soft light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ tsp table salt
Handful of raisons and cranberries
Its not going to take long to write this bit!
Put everything apart from the beetroot into a saucepan and bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes. Now add beetroot, bring back to the boil and simmer until it goes thick then pour into warm, sterilised jars. Allow to cool and then put the lids on and store.
I’m really feeling a lot more confident about finding ways to make the most of the seasonal vegetables and fruit I find on the market stalls. In addition to the beetroots themselves I’ve also been using their long leafy greens in salads both cold and warm and treated them like spinach and briefly wilted them to form the base of a baked egg dish which went down really well.