The purple packed superfood!
Available all year beetroot can be used in all sorts of dishes from casseroles, soups and dips to salads, cakes and drinks. It has a sweet, earthy flavour that you just know is doing your body good.
As with all fresh vegetables, they are low in calories and packed with nutrients, in particular folate, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C.
What to look for
As well as the dark red varieties, beetroot can also be golden, pink or white. It is usually sold with stems intact, so look for firm, smooth skinned roots with a bright colour and fresh tops. Anything soft, wizened or dull looking has been hanging around for a while.
How to prepare it
Quick and easy to prepare, just twist off the tops and scrub under the tap. Older and bigger beetroot can have a leathery ring of skin around the growing top and this can be pared off. The root can be nipped off with a sharp knife. The one thing that you don’t particularly want to do is peel the roots as the colour tends to ‘bleed’, the skins are also very thin and can be eaten.
How to cook it
Beetroot can be boiled, roasted, stir fried or eaten raw
You want to keep the root as intact as possible to avoid too much of the vegetable juice ‘bleeding’ into the water, so just pop the roots into a pot, add enough water just to cover, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Once the roots are cooked, they can be used as they are or the skins can be pinched off.
This is my favourite way of cooking beetroot, just cut it into regular sized pieces, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a drizzle of oil. Toss and roast. The flavour intesifies and the colour stays put.
Raw beetroot can have a bitter edge to it and stir frying starts the cooking process and mellows the flavour. My favourite stir fry way with beetroot is to either cut it into thin match sticks or coarsely grate it, toss in a pan with a little butter or oil and the rind of an orange. Once it’s hot, it’s ready. Eat as a vegetable or toss through salad.
You can also stir fry in the Chinese sense with other vegetables, meat, rice or noodles. It will taste fantastic, but everything in the pan will have a rosy hew!
Coping with stains
A beetroot stain is hard to eradicate. The main thing with any beetroot stain is to wash it out with cold water. Cold water is important so as not to ‘cook’ the stain in. You’ll probably have to add some soap to a fabric or carpet stain, work fast to prevent the stain drying, rubbing and dabbing with a white cloth to lift as much of the stain as possible. If it’s your hands or chopping board, again use cold water to rinse, then rub with salt and the cut side of half a lemon.
Here are a few of my favourite beetroot recipes, if you’ve been used to pickled beetroot, give them a try!