What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of beetroot? The rich scarlet colour or the strong, earthy flavour? Perhaps the health benefits, or the myriad combinations and uses it can be adapted to in food prep? Or maybe it’s a vegetable you don’t particularly like or are unsure what to do with?
Beetroot is awesome.
For a start it looks fantastic, and actually comes in more than the stunning red we are used to; paler red, golden and candied (striped like a lollipop) varieties are now making a comeback after years of supermarket standardisation. Any vegetable with such vivid colouring is always going to be popular with chefs.
The humble beetroot is a great source of iron and is packed with antioxidants, especially the betalains which are largely responsible for the colour (betacyanins in red varieties and betaxanthins in golden varieties). It is a great source of medical benefits, such as aiding liver function, circulation and purifying the blood. Beetroot is also known to help lower the blood pressure and cholesterol which leads to healthy heart. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, so provides a wonderful boost in cold weather when a cold or flu are a constant threat.
Beetroot can be eaten raw, pickled, juiced, steamed, boiled and roasted, although shorter cooking time is always beneficial in preserving as many nutrients as possible.
Try making a delicious salad by grating a few beetroot bulbs and carrots and mixing them with a simple vinegar dressing (3:1 oil to vinegar ratio with a pinch of salt). For a quick pickle, slice 4 medium beetroot bulbs thinly (you can use a mandolin), pop them into a bowl and pour over 5 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of oil and a large pinch of salt, cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for a few hours. Before you serve the pickle, drain it on a kitchen paper.
Because its flavour is robust but not overpowering, beetroot pairs well with many other foods, particularly goat cheese, apple, beef, dill, chocolate, anchovies, horseradish, oily fish like mackerel and nuts such as walnuts and pecans.
See some of our recipes below:
Beet root Risotto
Quinoa and beetroot salad
Fish cakes with a poached egg and beetroot