Category Archives: Beetroot

Beetroot, red onion and cranberry relish

beet relish1

The beetroot has grown pretty well as usual this year. There isn’t a single crop that I grow without some sort of pest or disease to challenge it (or me) along the way, but some are definitely easier than others, needing little attention, and beetroot is one of those. It always germinates okay, grows whether it’s cold and damp or hot and dry, and apart from needing a little thinning in late spring/early summer, it looks after itself. Some grow big, some stay quite small, but that’s okay with me.

The leaves sometimes get a bit nibbled and then rusty towards the end of summer, and the bulbs also get eaten slightly, but whatever it is that attacks them only ever gets as far as a small hole in the side and then gives up. They don’t burrow all the way in and eat the entire build from the inside out like the eelworms in potatoes. So it’s quite easy to chop these holey sections off when trimming and peeling them. And less than perfect veg is always fine for chutney and relish making, nobody will ever know.

I came across a recipe in Alys Fowlers book Abundance (which I can highly recommend) for beetroot marmalade, and decided to adapt it ever so slightly to make this, which I’m controversially calling a relish. To be honest I don’t really get the difference between a pickle, chutney, relish or marmalade. The definition of marmalade seems to universally be a preserve made with the juice and peel of citrus fruit, so where does that leave caramelised onion marmalade? I think (personal opinion alert) it can be anything sweet made with slithers of fruit, veg or peel, suspended in a syrupy juice. Relish perhaps suggests something more savoury, whereas this is sweet, although you eat it with savoury dishes! Confused? Me too.

Anyway, call it what you like, it tastes lovely with a chunk of tangy cheese or cold meat. Anywhere you might use onion marmalade in fact, or cranberry relish, which lets face it, is really a jam! I’ll say no more.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beetroot (trimmed and peeled)
  • 100ml balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt, to taste
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 large red onions, or a handful of smaller ones
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 400ml red wine vinegar
  • 100g dried cranberries, or feel free to use fresh.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºc. Cut the beetroot and the red onions into quarters and place in a roasting tin with a good dowsing of the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle over some sea salt and the orange zest. Mix everything together and roast for 40 mins, or until you can pierce the beetroot with a knife. Set aside to cool – you can do this one evening and leave them overnight to make up the relish the next day.
  2. Grate the beetroot into a bowl, and set aside.
  3. Take out the onions and roughly chop them. Put them into a large pan with any balsamic juices from the pan, and the brown sugar and set over a low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan (including the beetroot) and cook on a gentle simmer for 30 mins until the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. It might take a bit longer. Stir from time to time to avoid anything sticking.
  5. You know when the relish is ready when you draw a spoon across the bottom of the pan and it stays clear for a few seconds before the syrupy juices fill back in. If there are no juices you may have overcooked it, in which case, add a little more vinegar and sugar and cook briefly.
  6. Spoon the relish into warm sterilised jars – I do this by washing the jars in hot water and then placing them into a cool oven to dry. Or you can just run them through a dishwasher.
  7. Place the lids on and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

beetroots beets and onions pre roast beet relish 2

Beetroot crisps

beet crisps

You can make fantastic crisps from all root crops – potatoes being the most obvious and I guess economical choice for commercial producers, but carrots, parsnips, swede and beetroot all work well. You can also use squashes and I believe even kale, though I haven’t tried that one. For me though, the beetroot ones are the most flavoursome, and just look at those colours, potato crisps are frankly boring by comparison.

I have tried making them in various ways over the past few years. I had beginners luck the first time I made them, but have since discovered that they can be tricky to get just right. A few minutes under and they are still a bit soggy, a minute or even a few seconds over and they’re black pieces of beetroot charcoal – albeit very tasty charcoal!

The difficulty comes when you have slices at varying thicknesses and so they crisp at different rates, so the key is to get them as evenly sliced as possible to start with. A good sharp mandolin would be ideal (something I keep meaning to purchase) but I have found that using a vegetable peeler, you can get even slices, they just won’t be round. Luckily I’m not that fussed about the shape of my crisps.

Method:

Preheat your oven to a hot temp (around 240ºc). Wash, trim and peel your beetroot, discarding the trimmings and outside peelings. Then just carry on with the peeler all round until fully peeled. Put the peelings into a large bowl and cover with vegetable oil (be generous, a couple of tablespoons per large beetroot) and with your hands (or a spatula if you don’t want bright red hands afterwards) turn the beetroot slices over in the oil so they are thoroughly coated all over. Then spread them out evenly on baking trays and sprinkle over some sea salt. Put in the oven for around 10 minutes, but from 8 minutes onwards watch them like a hawk. Depending on your oven they may need more or less time.

To be honest though, even if some are slightly moist or some slightly charred, they still taste great. Once ready, tip them into a bowl, add a touch more salt if desired and eat straight away. They don’t really keep, but you won’t find that to be a problem.

beet slices for crisps beet crisps 2

Chocolate, beetroot and raspberry brownies

brownies1

I’m putting the courgette recipes to one side very briefly (still got more up my sleeve) to bring back the beetroot and use the first autumn raspberry harvest. I guess autumn must be just round the corner then! It was only a small raspberry harvest, a double handful, not worthy of a dessert of their own, but just enough to throw into a chocolate brownie mix that I’d been planning to do anyway.

The combination of beetroot and raspberries give them a lovely deep red colour, sort of like a red velvet cake, but without the need for food colouring. Of course they also keep the brownies moist, and the sweetness of the raspberries counters the earthiness of the beetroot. A good combination.

The recipe is one I’ve used before from River Cottage, I just added the raspberries with the beetroot in the folding stage at the end.

Source: River Cottage

  • 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 250g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 150g self-raising flour (wholemeal ideally but white works well too)
  • 250g beetroot, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated
  • a handful or so of fresh or frozen raspberries

Grease a shallow baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm, and line the base with baking parchment.

Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and put the bowl in it for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter start to melt.

Stir, then put back in to the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely. Of course, you could melt them together in the traditional way, over a pan of hot water, but it is a shame not to exploit the warming oven.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth.

Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the grated beetroot (and raspberries if using) – be careful not to over-mix or it will make the brownies tough.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes; when the brownies are done, a knife or skewer inserted in the centre should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Don’t be tempted to overcook them or they will be dry. Remove the tin from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before cutting in to squares.

brownies2

 

beetroot

Courgette and beetroot couscous

couscous salad

 

The courgettes are coming thick and fast now. Well, they’re actually coming thick, thin, large, small, straight, bendy, any which way. I can never understand how the supermarkets manage to only stock very regular shaped and sized courgettes, there must be so many that are discarded, I dread to think. I just hope they go to some use, I won’t get started on the evils of supermarket waste.

The first of my courgettes always get the simple treatment to start with, which means they are sliced and thrown into a pan of hot olive oil for a few minutes each side, then drained on kitchen paper before being seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and then greedily devoured with our hands. They don’t make it into any dish as such. But they are also delicious used raw in salads.

This dish became a lunchtime favourite for me last summer. It’s my own made-up recipe that changes like the wind dependant on what needs using up in the fridge. But courgettes, if I have them, always go in.

Ingredients:

couscous ingredients

You can roughly see the quantities in the picture above are just for one, adapt as you like for however many people you are feeding. I sometimes use a little chopped apple instead of the dried fruit, but a bit of something sweet really works well. Substitute the mint for basil if you prefer, feta for goats cheese if you please, and you could use red onion instead of spring. You could also add walnuts or almond flakes at the end.

Method:

1. Firstly wash, trim (leaving a bit of leaf stalk on) and boil the beetroot for around 30-40 mins depending on size. Once cooled, peel. I usually chop the top and bottom off so it’s stable and then use the back of a knife to scrape the skin downwards. If it’s cooked enough it should come off easily, so it’s a good indication.

2. Prepare the couscous by putting it into a bowl and just covering it with hot veg or chicken stock. I use Marigold bullion powder. Or you could use freshly boiled water with a little turmeric (just a pinch) and some seasoning. Leave to one side for a few minutes. Once the water has been absorbed, fork it through, drizzle over a little olive oil and stir to coat.

3. Prepare the other ingredients by chopping or slicing into similar sized pieces. Then mix everything (except the beetroot) together.

4. Top with the beetroot at the end, or else you’ll get very pink couscous. If however, you want pink couscous, be my guest and stir it all in!

courgette harvest

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