For the last few weeks there’s been plenty of beetroot at Hamilton Farmers Market. So it must be in season.
A couple of the things I especially like about beetroot: that amazing colour.
And, I can get two or three different vegetable dishes out of one bundle of beets. How thrifty is that?
Above: beetroot growing in Dani's garden. All photos by Dani Edwards.
David from Suncakes Gardens had some; so did Clif’s Gardens, and so did the Southern Fresh stall. (There might have been even more, but my bag was full by then.)
At my house, beetroot sits in the fridge until I do something with it. The other cooks (all three of them!) seem to regard it as being difficult to cook, or maybe not quick enough. But they eat beetroot very happily when someone else prepares it. Beets aren’t precisely fast food. But I don’t find they’re that much trouble.
The beets from Clif’s Gardens had beautiful (unsprayed) leaves and crunchy stalks, as well as fairly large roots. Here’s what I did with them:
1. The first night I steamed the leaves with a splash of olive oil, a bit of garlic and half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. (Pretty much the way I like to cook silverbeet.)
2. The second night I trimmed the stalks into 2cm (one inch) pieces and steamed them briefly – just to take away the crunch. After they cooled the pieces went into an Asian-style salad with julienned carrots and some toasted sesame seeds. I added a handful of onionweed flowers, but you might prefer chives or spring onions. Plus a dressing made by combining 2 tsp sesame oil, the juice of one lime, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt.
3. The third night I finally got around to simmering the beetroots until they were just tender. They didn’t take as long as I expected – about 45 minutes. (With beetroot you never know, sometimes the large ones take hours to cook. Maybe that’s what puts the other cooks off.)
After that, I plunged the beets into a pan of cold water and slipped off the skins. I cut them into chunks and sprinkled them with cider vinegar and sea salt. Leftovers went into a jar in the fridge.
Above: grating beetroot is messy, but rewarding.
Two great beetroot recipes
NB when you’re dealing with beetroot, wear an apron. Or a bright red shirt.
A Jamie Oliver-style tray bake.
You’ll need a bunch of small beets for this.
Wash the beets thoroughly. You don’t need to peel them. Trim off the leaves.
Melt 2 Tbsp of lard or a splash of olive oil in a roasting pan. Add the beets and other veges, e.g. onions cut into wedges, baby leeks, garlic cloves, small carrots, etc. Shake so the oil or lard is spread around. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Bake in a hot oven at 200 degC for 45 minutes, or until the beets are tender. Chop up the leaves and throw them on top for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
I harvested this recipe from Julie LeClerc.
Peel raw beetroot and carrots – approx 2 beetroot for every 3 carrots is the proportion I use. But it depends on the size.
Grate them into a salad bowl. (NB this is messy. I do it in the sink.)
Toast 2 Tbsp sesame seeds in a cast iron pan and add to the bowl.
Finely chop one spring onion and add this also.
2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice of one lemon (or more to taste)
½ tsp sugar
salt and pepper
finely grated zest of ½ a lemon
Add the dressing to the salad and mix well.
This salad is better if it is made a couple of hours ahead, so the beets and carrots can marinate.
Optional: sprinkle over 2 Tbsp chopped parsley or coriander