An Ode to Beetroot

Let this poem sing the praise of the beet

A finer vegetable you will not meet

Not bland, not mushy  but delicate treat

Displaying the best of savoury and sweet

(all credit to Swarn Gill)

Beetroot is a great vegetable. Easy to grow and a reliable cropper. The leaves can be cooked like spinach and the young (baby) leaves added raw to salads. The root can be eaten raw (shredded in salads to add a dash of colour) or roasted/steamed/boiled as a hot or cold vegetable. It is often preserved in vinegar. The root vegetable is a tasty combination of sweet and earthy. Beetroot is rich in B vitamins, especially B9 (folate) where a 100g portion proves a quarter of your daily requirements, and a good source of minerals such as manganese, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

I prefer to roast the roots as this enhances the flavour. Using scissors, I snip off the leaves (leaving about 5-7 cm of stalk) and any straggly roots before scrubbing in water to remove any soil. Place on a baking tray and cook in a fan oven for between 45 and 90 minutes at 160 ℃. Bigger beets need longer and you can reduce cooking time by increasing the temperature. Check the beets are cooked using a probe (e.g. cocktail stick) which should insert easily. Allow the cooked beets to cool on the tray...

  ...then top and tail and carefully remove the skins.

Eat some fresh as a side vegetable or mixed into a salad. There are plenty of excellent beetroot recipes including Borscht and, even, beetroot cake. Any spare roast beetroot should be preserved as pickled beetroot or open frozen as slices.



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