Many folk are a little averse to beetroot, most probably having only experienced the crinkle-cut slices in that rather overpowering vinegar! Well, I think the lovely dark red/purple root veggies are wonderful! they have a sweet, slightly earthy taste, and they have a lovely smooth and velvety texture.
Beetroots come in all shapes and sizes but the most common are round and deep red/purple in colour. Other varieties of beetroots are yellow, white, and even candy-striped - with red and white concentric circles. Very pretty : )
The humble beetroot is related to turnip, swede and sugar beet. Beetroot, botanically-known as Beta vulgaris, evolved from wild seabeet, which is a native of coastlines from India to Britain and is the ancestor of all cultivated forms of beet. Sea beet was first domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East– although it was only the leaves that were eaten at that time.
A few Beetroot facts..
* The red pigment in beetroot is used to colour strawberry jam as well as to improve the colour of tomato paste, sauces and strawberry ice cream.
* Beetroot is a water-soluble dye, and hot water seems to 'fix' the colour stain more, so use lukewarm or cold water to avoid staining. To cure the inevitable 'pink fingers', rub with lemon juice and salt before washing with soap and water. On fabrics, try rubbing a slice of raw pear on the stain before washing, or rinse in cold water before washing in a biological powder.
* Beetroot has one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable. Up to 10 per cent of beetroot is sugar, but it is released slowly into the body rather than the sudden rush that results from eating chocolate.
* Beetroot can be made into a wine that tastes similar to port.
Tender baby roots can be grated raw in salads. The Mature beetroot can be boiled or wrapped in foil and baked. I like to roast beetroots in the oven, this makes them nice and mellow and they taste delicious. The beet leaves can also be used too and cooked like spinach.
See my cookbook for recipes ideas using those Beet greens
Serves 4 as a side dish, great with a juicy steak or a roast beef dinner
8 medium sized, fresh red beetroots- scrubbed and trimmed.
2 tblsp Olive oil
1 tblsp fresh Thyme leaves
Sea Salt & Black pepper
Cut the beetroots into quarters and mix them with the olive oil, thyme leaves and salt & pepper, coating the beets really well. Put into a shallow roasting tin and roast in hot oven for around 40 - 45 minutes until they are nicely charred and tender.
Tip ~ I also like to add some Red Onion - cut into quarters, to the roasting tin with the beets.
PICKLED BEET ROOT
There are many recipes for pickling beets, but this is one of my favourites and it tastes delicious! ~ Makes 2 Jars.
1kg Fresh beetroot
100g Granulated sugar
700ml Red wine vinegar
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Coriander seeds
4 Red chillies - halved.
Start by washing the beetroot, making sure not to break there skins, trim the tops and remove any leaves. Place in a large pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about an hour until tender.
Drain and allow to cool. Rub the skins off (beetroot will stain your hands, so use gloves if you want to.)Place the vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a pan. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.Cut the beetroot into quarters and put into the jars along with 2 chillies per jar. Pour over the hot vinegar spice mix and seal the Jars. Leave the pickle to rest for a week or so before using. So that the beets absorb all those delicious spicy flavours. Once opened keep in fridge and use within 5-7 days. Tastes great in salads and with cold meats.