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
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.