Learning to love Beetroot…


I don’t like beetroot. I’ve been telling myself this for years. The thing is I couldn’t say what I dislike about them. Apart from a tentative nibble, I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten one. “How do you know until you’ve tried them?” Sofia asks. My fatherly advice coming back to bite me in the butt. Perhaps it’s time I practiced what I preached and gave the beetroot a chance?

Jars of pickled beetroot really weren’t the place to start. If I was going to do this, then I was doing it right. That meant starting from scratch, the raw ingredient fresh from the garden. The seedlings I had planted earlier in the year had flourished and it felt great pulling my first beetroot out of the earth. What an attractive vegetable the beetroot is, bright green foliage flecked with a vivid red and a dark burgundy root. They looked good enough to eat! Which of course would be the challenge.

With beetroots this fresh I didn’t want to mess about with them too much, keeping it simple I decided to make a rustic salad. So beetroots in hand I made a start. Then it occurred to me, I hadn’t a clue how to cook them. Unfortunately, this was after I’d peeled them. My beetroot loving wife came to the rescue suggesting I bake them in aluminium foil. Which worked really well, although baking them in their skins would have been better.

On the shelf in my kitchen there’s a book entitled: ‘Culinary Artistry‘ by Andrew Dornenburg. A book full of classic flavour combinations for almost every ingredient you could think of. Turning to the ‘B’ for beetroot I started playing around, pairing up and trying out suggestions that took my fancy. Through a process of elimination I decided upon a mix of goats cheese, roast pepper, baby potatoes and watercress. The creamy, sour goat’s cheese with the sweetness of the peppers and the earthy beetroot really worked. The Beetroot on its own failed to wow me but when teamed up with the other flavours it was fabulous.

Next on my list is a beetroot and chocolate cake recipe I stumbled across on “lovebeetroot.co.uk” which was chock-full of facts and recipes. Everything you could wish to know about Beta vulgaris!

Baked Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Salad:
Approximate quantities: makes enough for 2.

3 Fresh medium beetroots
1 Large yellow pepper
200 g Goat’s cheese
2 Handfuls of Water cress
250 g Baby potatoes (such as ‘Vivaldi’)

Vinaigrette with Balsamic vinegar

120 ml Good quality olive oil
40 ml Balsamic vinegar
Ground black pepper and sea salt

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
2. Place the beetroot onto a large piece of aluminium foil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bring the edges of the foil together loosely around the beetroot and seal to create a parcel. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beetroot is tender. Open the foil parcel and set the beetroot when it’s cool enough to handle, peel and slice.
3. Cut your pepper into 4 pieces, removing the seeds. Brush the skin with olive oil and arrange on a baking tray skin side up.
4. Place the pepper under a hot grill until the skin is charred and black. Seal the hot pepper in a plastic freezer bag (This will cause the pepper to sweat making it much easier to remove the skin) and allow to cool. Then cut into strips.
5. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. When cool cut into wedges.
6. Now its time to assemble your salad. I like to start with the watercress then the potatoes followed by the beetroot, goats cheese and finally the peppers. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy.

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Comments

  1. I have to admit that I’m a rather recent beetroot convert myself. Your salad looks truly wonderful – paired with the goats cheese, balsamic and olive oil, I’m sure it was absolutely delicious! :)

    • Thanks Margot, it was rather tasty. What’s your favourite beetroot dish? Anything spring to mind?

      • We also grew our own for the first time last summer and enjoyed them (usually as a side dish) roasted with a little oil, balsamic and fresh thyme or oregano. Beetroot leaves are also wonderful to toss through a salad when they’re young. It may be just a quirky little Australian thing, but a home-made hamburger is never quite the same without a slice or two of beetroot in it… :)

      • I had know idea that the leaves are edible, daft that I didn’t check. Thanks to you I will be giving them a try. I agree they would look fabulous in a salad.

  2. Your photos are always so refreshing. I just love looking at them. Can I use the beets raw, incase I don’t want to cook them? will it still taste nice? Please let me know. Have a lovely weekend!

    • Hi Liz, thanks for the compliment. Cooked or raw, I’m sure either would work just fine. The raw beetroot had a satisfying crunch but I found the flavour too earthy. Baking them as with peppers gave them a sweeter more mellow flavour. If you like your salad with a bite then I’d go for the raw. If you get the chance perhaps you’d let me know what you preferred.

      • Now you’ve convinced me to go for the sweeter more mellow flavour. I have only eaten them raw, time to try something new, perhaps that will satisfy my curiosity. Thanks, Lain, for responding. Have a pleasant Sunday.

  3. The picture of your home-grown beetroot is stunning. I absolutely adore beetroot, and always enjoy it with goats cheese – a classic pairing. I think Nigel Slater’s description of cooking beetroot is my favourite: “They are ready when you can pierce them through the heart with a skewer. As you might a vampire”. (Which was inspiration for a post I did some months ago – if you’re interested, have a look here – http://thefreshprincessofbelair.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/they-are-ready-when-you-can-pierce-them-through-the-heart-with-a-skewer-as-you-might-a-vampire/)

    • Thank you so much, I’m very proud of my 1st beetroots. Nigel Slater is one of my food heroes, but I hadn’t heard that quote – brilliant – thanks for sharing.

  4. In the past, I avoided beets because they stain and they are hard to handle. But after trying so many dishes involving beets, including golden beets, I fell in love with them, plus juicing them. Also love how they are roasted, too.

    • Yes, I found them a little messy to work with, but as you say they’re worth it. Now beetroot juice is something I haven’t tried. Thanks for reading my post.

  5. I have found an excellent use for beetroot – boil until very soft, puree and then use a tablespoon, or two, in baking instead of red food dye. I mix the beetroot puree thoroughly with the butter for cakes and muffins – you may wish to decrease the sugar a tad). I also use a couple of spoonfuls of beetroot water for biscuits to give them a pinkish hue – very good for Valentine.

  6. I missed your post. I’m glad to hear the you’ve become a beetroot convert!

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