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Beetroot Madness

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November 1, 2014 / Italian / By
Anna

Beetroot is easy to grow, but I hadn't bothered until I tried beetroot salad (a previous post). I had suffered under the delusion that beetroot had to be pickled, and I never know what to do with pickled beetroot. But, with me new confidence, beetroot salad and roast beetroot have featured heavily over the summer and sliding into winter and I want to share a few easy ways to enjoy thos beautiful vegetable.

Roast beetroot can be tailored to the individual tastes. Just make little tinfoil cups with chunks of peeled beetroot, then dress with whatever flavors appeal to you. I like a mix of olive oil and lemon with crushed garlic. But you could add cumin or coriander for a Middle Eastern twist. You could smear a little harissa over the beet then slather it in oil. There are no rules, just try to stick to things that go together. Roast in the oven at around 190 degrees for 30-40 minutes. It depends on the size of the chunks really. Now I would never turn the oven on just for beetroot, so try to have a chicken in there as well. Or, if you are vegetarian, a butternut or pumpkin sliced in half, seeds scooped out. When the pulp is soft, stir in one of the following: butter, yoghurt, sour cream, mascarpone or my current favorite – harissa. You can put the pumpkin, shell and all, on to a serving dish. What a colorful meal.

Last week, I heard about the growing potential health benefits attributed to beetroot. Apparently, for some people, it lowers blood pressure. So let’s get it into the diet even more, I thought. Beetroot soup seemed an obvious place to start. I used some excess roast beetroot, but peeled and finely chopped raw beets would be just as good.

Simple Beetroot Soup (I don't claim this is borscht)

Into a saucepan add:

a slosh of olive oil – about 2 tablespoons  

a chopped onion

two finely chopped carrots

ditto with two or three beetroot

I chop the vegetables with a simple kitchen whizz. Sauté the vegetables in the oil. Add about four cups of water and a stock cube. Of course it will be nicer if you have homemade stock, but there are times when all you want is a fast, healthy and delicious meal. This is for those times, so the stock cube is fine. Bring to the boil, then simmer until all the ingredients have softened – surprisingly quick really if you have whizzed the vegetables into submission. When the soup is ready, check the seasoning. Most stocks are salty, so it will likely be just right. You can eat it with the texture of the vegetables still evident, or you can give it a further whizz until it is smooth. It is a matter of personal taste as is the decision to add or not to add plain yoghurt sprinkled with freshly ground pepper. Chopped parsley or coriander to garnish is also a choice. A few stands of lemon zest would add a zing if variety is what you seek, but the basic recipe is simple.

Finally, I recommend you try adding cooked beetroot to hummus if you make it. If not, it is very simple and just requires you to combine a can of cooked chickpeas with a tablespoon of tahini, the juice of a lemon, three cloves of garlic, ½ teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander, two heaped tablespoons of plain yoghurt and about ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Put these ingredients into a kitchen whizzer and blitz. If the mix is too dry you can add more oil, or even a little water. The addition of the beetroot will give it a lovely flavor and color. I served this to my daughter-in-law who is a fantastic cook and especially good at Middle Eastrn dishes. To my delight she loved it. We had scoffed it before I thought to photograph it, but I will amend this post next time I make it; it is a lovely pink color.


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Country: Italy

Province/State: Umbria

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