How to cook with beetrootApril 20th, 2020
by Maranda Engelbrecht
Babylonstoren’s beetroot, freshly harvested, have revealed another dimension in terms of taste to me. They are super-sweet, ready to eat after boiling for a much shorter time and just delicious without anything added. The balance of the sweetness and almost liquorice lingering aftertaste is what I love most.
This is a two-in-one vegetable because the young leaves and the root are both edible. In the old days, beetroot was quite ordinary – cooked and served as a salad with sweet vinegar, or commercially pickled, causing everything else on the plate to turn red.
Nowadays, however, the humble beetroot has reinvented itself. It’s trendy for good reason: its health benefits are numerous (beetroot is a rich source of nutrients), and its versatility makes it ideal for use in all types of cuisine. Different varieties of beetroot now being cultivated are still finding their way into the market. Even the young leaves can be steamed or boiled – they have the taste and texture of spinach.
BEETROOT FOR BREAKFAST
- in a fresh juice with ginger and fresh apple
- in a beetroot soufflé with melting Gorgonzola
- scrambled eggs on toast with beetroot chutney
BEETROOT IN A SALAD
- cook with roasted butternut and toasted pumpkin seeds; serve with a cinnamon and balsamic reduction dressing
- cook and slice with pitted fresh cherries, raspberries, sliced baby radish and red basil; toss with walnuts and a walnut dressing
- cook and grate over a potato salad with a mustard and lemon vinaigrette
- top julienned fresh carrots with fresh julienned beetroot and thinly sliced shallots; serve with an orange and dill dressing with grated orange rind
- cook and top with rocket and an anchovy dressing
BEETROOT FOR LUNCH OR DINNER
- cook and bake in a quiche with prosciutto, Parmesan and caperberries
- cook and peel whole beetroot while still warm; serve with Boursin, toasted pine nuts and pomegranate syrup, seasoned with salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- cook or pickle as part of a beef or ostrich burger with a generous dollop of beetroot and onion chutney
- top a carpaccio of raw beetroot with lightly smoked grilled trout; serve with a horseradish dressing and warm crusty bread
- slice beetroot on a toasted baguette with ham and melting Brie; top with a beetroot pickle
- as a warm creamy soup with lightly smoked mussels
- in a risotto with star anise and shaved Parmesan
- as part of a vegetarian lasagne, using only cooked sliced beetroot and steamed beet greens with sautéed red onion and béchamel sauce; top with Gorgonzola and Parmesan
- roast and serve with seared duck breast and a ground coriander and orange sauce
PINK BAKING AND COOKING WITH BEETROOT
- add beetroot coulis to your favourite cheesecake recipe
- add grated beetroot to your rich chocolate cake to keep the cake moist and give a dark red colour
- add a little beetroot juice to icing for a pink colour
- add a little beetroot juice when melting white chocolate for drizzling over cake or any baked goods
- add beetroot juice to waffle mixture to make pink waffles
- add a little beetroot juice to cooked rice
- enhance any red or pink colour with beetroot juice instead of food colourant
BEETROOT IS BEST WITH:
PROTEIN: anchovies / bacon, prosciutto, salted pork / smoked fish, trout / venison
PRODUCE: apples / cherries / pears / raspberries / lemons / oranges / cucumber / ginger / horseradish / onions / shallots / potatoes / rocket
HERBS AND SPICES: allspice / star anise / cloves / curry / cumin / mustard seeds / chives / mint / dill / nutmeg / curry leaves / parsley / tarragon / watercress / radicchio
CONDIMENTS: mustard / vinaigrette / balsamic vinegar / sherry and red wine vinegar / walnut oil / brown sugar / balsamic reduction
DAIRY: butter / cream / crème fraîche / sour cream / Parmesan / Boursin / cheddar / ricotta
RECIPE: ROASTED PANCETTA FARM CHICKEN WITH SAUTÉED BEET GREENS AND WHOLE BEETROOT
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Rub 1 medium free-range chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine 20ml chopped thyme, 20ml chopped rosemary, 10ml chopped sage, 10ml orange zest, 10ml lemon zest, 4 crushed garlic cloves with 30ml soft butter and rub over chicken.
- Cover chicken with 200g thinly sliced pancetta and place in a baking tray on a bed of fresh thyme.
- Pour 500ml dry white wine over chicken and roast for 1-1ó hours until baked through and its skin is crisp.
- Whole beetroot: Wash or rinse about 20 young beetroot and carefully remove any bad leaves.
- Cut leaves with garden shears leaving about 8cm of the stalk remaining on the beetroot. Keep the greens to the side in cold water.
- Place beetroot in a saucepan with just enough salt water to cover the roots. The stems should not touch the water.
- Simmer until the beetroot start to soften. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Peel and place in serving bowl. Sautéed beet greens: In a large saucepan add a generous dollop of butter.
- Add 4-6 shallots and sauté until soft and golden brown.
- Add washed young beet greens and toss for 2-3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the juice of 1 lemon and a glug of olive oil. Transfer to the serving bowl of beetroot.
TIP: ABOUT THOSE BEETROOT STAINS…
Beetroot is a water-soluble dye; using hot water will react as a fixative for stronger colour. Use cold water and rub your hands with salt and lemon juice to remove stains on your skin. For stains on fabric, rub raw pear on the mark before washing in cold water. Then wash with soap.