Vegetables in season this month: Brilliant Beetroot Recipes
Beetroot is now in season, so it’s the perfect time to try some new recipes. Beetroot has an earthy, sweet flavour and vibrant magenta colour which lends itself to so many savoury – and even sweet – dishes. It is a close relative of chard and spinach, so be sure not to waste the leaves, as they can be prepared and cooked in the same way. Bake the firm globes of beetroot whole (unpeeled to stop them bleeding) or reduce the roasting time by cutting them into wedges; either way they need to be cooked until tender and richly sweet. Alternatively, boil, pickle or grate raw into salads – and cakes!
And then there’s the stunning Italian candy-striped beetroot, also known as chioggia, with its concentric circles in varying shades of pink, red, yellow and white. It looks dramatic cut into paper-thin slices and served as part of a salad. One of my favourite beetroot recipes is to add them to savoury or sweet muffins, such as my Beetroot and Goats’ Cheese Muffins. The beetroot makes them wonderfully moist, in much the same way as adding carrots or courgettes does, and they also benefit from the vegetable’s vibrant ruby colour. If using ready-cooked beetroot, make sure you buy the kind without any vinegar. Also, try to use a crumbly goats’ cheese rather than a runny one for the best results. The secret to successful light muffins is to keep mixing to a minimum; briefly fold the ingredients together and you’re done – they don’t even have to be thoroughly combined.
Beetroot and Goats’ Cheese Muffins Recipe
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes hour
sunflower oil, for greasing
280g/10oz/2 ¼ cups plain flour
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
300ml/10½fl oz/scant 1¼ cups natural yogurt
85g/3oz butter, melted
115g/4oz goats’ cheese, crumbled
225g/8oz cooked beetroot, coarsely grated
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1) Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Lightly grease a 12-hole deep muffin tin with oil (or you could make 6 large muffins using large paper muffin cases).
2) Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
3) Mix together the eggs and yogurt and beat in the melted butter. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then gently fold in the goats’ cheese and beetroot until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until risen and golden.
3 Simple Recipes for Beetroot
Try these quick recipes to turn a bumper crop into something truly delicious.
A spoonful of this thick, sticky, earthy, savoury jam goes particularly well with robust-flavoured cheeses, or nut or bean-based dishes. Sauté 1 large finely chopped onion in 1 tbsp olive oil for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add 2 (about 280g/10oz) peeled and grated raw beetroot, 1 large peeled and grated apple, 100ml/ 3½fl oz/scant ½ cup each of cider vinegar and water and 4 tbsp soft brown sugar. Stir well and bring up to boiling point, then turn the heat down to medium-low, part-cover the pan and simmer for 40 minutes until the beetroot is very tender. Remove the lid and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring now and then, to reduce the liquid in the pan and until the mixture is jam-like in consistency. Season with salt and pepper and leave the jam to cool before serving, or spoon into a sterilized jar and keep for up to 1 month.
Lebanese Beetroot Dip
This simple dip is delicious slathered onto warm flatbreads or scooped up with vegetables. I like to roast my own beetroot but you could use ready-cooked if time is short. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Trim 2 (about 280g/10oz) beetroot and wrap them in foil. Roast for 1 hour–1 hour 15 minutes until the beetroot can be easily pierced all the way through with a skewer. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel away the skin and roughly chop. Blend the beetroot with 6 tbsp natural yogurt, the juice of ½ lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 chopped red chilli, 2 tsp ras el hanout and ½ tsp ground cumin until smooth. Season well with salt and pepper and spoon the dip into a serving bowl. Serve scattered with crumbled feta cheese and coriander and mint leaves.
Roast Beetroot Crisps
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Thinly slice 5 raw beetroot (they should be about 3mm/⅛in thick) using a mandolin or very sharp knife. Pat the beetroot slices dry with kitchen paper and lightly brush both sides with olive oil. Put in a single layer on two baking sheets and roast for 20–25 minutes, turning the beetroot once and swapping the trays around at the same time, until just crisp (they will crisp up more when cool). Keep an eye on the beetroot as they can burn easily in a matter of minutes. Drain on kitchen paper and season with sea salt.
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