Hate beetroot? 10 delicious recipes to convert you

Date:08-05-2014 07:58:23 read:1

Hate beetroot? 10 delicious recipes to convert you

Sales of beetroot are reported to be soaring, partially due to its (many) health benefits. Xanthe Clay shares her top 10 favourite ways with the vegetable

Bursting with goodness: beetroot Photo: Alamy

Beetroot sales are soaring – up 20 per cent in four years, according to figures by market research specialists Kantar. It’s great news for our health – beetroot is a good source of iron and folic acid, as well as antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure and fight cancer.

That deep, dark magenta colour is a clue to the benefits, as deep colour often goes hand in hand with higher levels of beneficial compounds. In beetroot, it’s produced by betalains, rather than the anthocyanins that give red cabbage its hue or the lycopene that reddens tomatoes – but they are all good news, nutritionally.

Mind you, beetroot has spent the last couple of decades in gastronomic purdah, and there are still plenty of beetroot haters around. But the secret to delicious beetroot, the kind to convert lifelong beetroot deniers? Ditch the vinegar. If the British are coming round to the round purple roots it’ll be because we’ve stopped cooking them without a dousing of cheap acid. Throat-scorchingly harsh pickled beets must have put a whole generation off the vegetable.

Mind you, you won’t win everyone round. As my son remarked gloomily at supper last night, “I wish beetroot was unethically grown so I could object to it.” Sometimes even I have to admit I’m beet-en.

1. Roast beetroot with mixed leaves and goat’s cream

Peel raw beetroot and cut into wedges. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes or so at 200C/ gas mark 6, until tender and beginning to caramelize at the edges, but not overly shriveled.

For the salad, toss the cooled (but not chilled) beetroot with mixed salad leaves. Beat a round of soft goat’s cheese with a spoonful or two of double cream – just enough to make a creamy consistency – like a thick buttercream icing. Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture over the salad and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

2. Beetroot and sardine pate

This recipe was sent to me a decade ago by a reader, Mrs C Hedges, who had it from a German friend in the 1950s. It tastes fresh, not fishy, and is a great way of packing some healthy fish oils in.

Drain the oil off a tin of sardines. Blend them in a food processor with a couple of golfball-sized cooked beetroot (from a vac-pack is fine) and 1tbsp of mayonnaise. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Eat with crackers or crisp leaves of little Gem lettuce. Enough for 4 people.

3. Magenta beetroot puree


Even beetroot-deniers love this vibrant pink, earthy-sweet puree. Magic with roast beef – all you’ll need alongside is a posy of dark green watercress leaves.

Whizz cooked beetroot in a food processor with a good dollop of crème fraiche, making sure the puree is really smooth. Mix with an equal quantity of mashed potato, taste and season. Reheat gently, stirring in a pan or else in the microwave. Some chopped dill scattered on top will gild the lily. Serves 3-4.

4. Beetroot and carrot salad

Eating raw beetroot sounds indigestible if not implausible but in fact it is very good. A salad like this is perfect for summer parties and for lunch boxes as it will sit happily in the fridge for several hours.

Peel and grate a large raw beetroot and two large carrots (aim for roughly equal quantities of the two). Mix 2tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp sesame oil and 1tbsp lemon juice plus a fat pinch of salt. Mix with the carrot and beetroot, then sprinkle generously with pumpkin and sesame seeds.

5. Pink and white chocolate muffins

Vivid pink muffins, lovely for a picnic.

Whizz 300g/11oz cooked beetroot (a vac pac is fine) to a puree in a food processor. Melt 110g/ 4oz melted butter and add to the processor along with 110ml/4floz milk, 85g/110ml caster sugar, and 2 large eggs. Blend well.Sift over 225g/8oz self raising flour and 1tsp baking powder. Pulse to blend roughly. Take out the processor blade and scatter over 50g/2oz white chocolate chips. Spoon the mixture into lined mini muffin tins (you should have enough for 20-24) and bake at 180C/170C fan/gas mark 4 for 25minutes. Cool on a rack.

6. Beetroot hummus and tzatziki


Beetroot is lovely in dips, enriching the flavour and lowering the calorie count while also turning them a brilliant pink. Try mixing yoghurt with a crushed garlic clove, salt, chopped cucumber and beetroot for a vibrant tzatziki. Or make hummus by blending a tin of chickpeas with 300g/11oz cooked beetroot, a large, crushed clove of garlic, 2tbsp olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, plus as much water as you need to make a creamy consistency. Season and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with radishes, cucumber sticks and carrots sliced thinly on an angle – try to find the purple edged ones. Enough for 4 people.

7. Beetroot and pearl barley risotto

Cook 2 sliced leeks and 2 sliced cloves of garlic in 2tbsp olive oil. When soft stir 300g/11oz pearl barley followed by a glassful of white wine. Add 750ml/ 1 1/4pints chicken or vegetable stock and simmer for 40 minutes, until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in 500g/1lb 2oz chopped cooked beetroot and, if you have them, the scraps leftover from a roast chicken carcass. Heat through, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve sprinkled with chopped dill or parsley, plus a little grated lemon zest. Serves 4 - 6.

8. Beetroot hash browns

The best leftover dish of all. Serve with some green vegetables and a fried egg – if it is a duck egg, so much the better.

Chop an onion and cook in a spoonful of oil or dripping until soft and golden. Cut 200g/7oz each cooked new potatoes and cooked beetroot into 1cm/1/2inch dice. Mix with the onions, along with a good shake or Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Now add the scraps from the roast, chopped – duck and lamb are especially good. Aim for between half and one teacupful, but if you have less, no matter. Add one beaten egg and form the mixture into pucks. Refrigerate for an hour (or up to a day). To serve, dip in a saucerful of breadcrumbs and shallow fry in oil or dripping. Serves 2-3.

9. Beetroot and tomato soup with horseradish cream

Cook a chopped onion in oil until soft, then add 400g chopped tomatoes (tinned or fresh). Cook until reduced and thick, then add 450ml/a pint of stock and 500g/1lb2oz peeled, chopped beetroot. Simmer until the beetroot is soft, then puree with a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, mix crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt with horseradish (freshly grated or sauce) to taste, and float a spoonful in each bowl. Serves 4.


10. Chiogga beetroot with broad beans and mint

Chiogga beetroot are often available from farmers’ markets. Cut open, they reveal candy stripes of pink and white, but sadly these vanish when the beets are cooked. Preserve them in a pretty raw beetroot salad that tastes as good as it looks.

Take a teacup full of shelled broad beans, and cook in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, cool under the tap and peel off the grey-green outer husk. Peel a chiogga beetroot and slice it paper thin. Slice a couple of spring onions and scatter them over a large plate. Arrange the beetroot slices haphazardly over the top. Sprinkle over the bright green peeled broad beans and drizzle with best olive oil, plus a squeeze of lemon juice. Finish with ripped basil and mint leaves.

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