Tue, 28 October, 2014
Beetroot is as easy to bake at home as potato, perhaps easier. And anyway, you can have it raw. Down with ready-cooked beetroot!
Cook beetroot at home!
It never ceases to amaze me that beetroot is so commonly sold ready cooked. No other vegetables seem to get that patronising treatment - you won't see carrots ready cooked in supermarkets unless wandering into ready meals; and carrots take just about as long to cook to tender. Ready cooked turnips, anyone? Ready roasted squash? Or parsnips? Why, oh why then poor beets? Maybe it’s because they tend to colour the close environment crimson when handled, hands first and foremost? Oh well - get yourself a pair of disposable gloves then.
So how do you cook beetroot at home?
Beetroots need to be roasted whole, with the stalks trimmed but not excessively to keep the skin intact in order to retain the moisture and flavour. You can wrap them in foil for the roasting, with a sprinkling of salt and/or a drizzle of oil.
An hour or so, depending on the size of the beets, in hot oven and they're ready to peel once cooled down a bit. The skin should come off easily but have gloves on as they will stain EVERYTHING around.
Raw beetroot is gorgeous too
Beetroots, especially new and small are absolutely lovely raw. I’ve served my salad to a couple of sworn beet haters and had enthusiastic-surprised response. Entirely raw beets shredded in a salad is one option, the other, more conservative, is to use just cooked beetroot. And I’ve used them here half and half raw and cooked, for variety of texture.
How to dress beetroot salad?
If using cooked beetroot, don't let them go completely cold before dressing, as they take on flavours better when warm. They like a bit of sharp, a bit of sweet, and some tangy additions. The dressing in the recipe below is simple and rather Goldilocks but if you're feeling adventurous, hit the beet with pressed garlic, fresh or creamed horseradish, or even wasabi.
beetroot saladServings: 2Time: 15 minutes plus roasting for an hour
- 4-6 medium sized beetroots, the smaller ones are nicer
- coarse salt and olive oil for roasting
- For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped dill (optional)
- 2-3 gherkins, very finely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Wash half the beetroots and trim the stalks, leaving at least 1cm in length. Sprinkle with coarse salt and drizzle with oil, then wrap into a couple of layers of aluminium foil making a sealed parcel. Roast for an hour, then let the parcel cool slightly before unwrapping.
2. Peel the raw beets (gloves will be handy) and coarsely grate or julienne them. When the cooked beets are cool enough to handle remove the skin (it will come off easily) and grate or julienne them as well. Mix both in a bowl.
3. Mix the dressing ingredients and toss with the beetroot salad. It tastes best when the cooked beets are still warm and the dressing will infuse them with flavour. It's great with fish or with burgers, instead of coleslaw.