Friday 3 February 2012

For Goodness Sake

Beetroot are at their best right now and repeatedly turning up in my veg boxes. They are a vegetable that we often neglect. That is until you discover how good they are for you. A rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium, vitamin C and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health and helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.  What is more betaine may protect against liver disease, particularly the build up of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency, or diabetes.  Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure. Research published in the American Heart Association journal "Hypertension", showed drinking 500ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure within one hour.  

The best way to cook beetroot, to maximise their goodness and their flavour, is to roast them.  Scrub lightly and wrap individually in tinfoil or if you are roasting a good many, pack them in a roasting tray with a  tiny amount of water and cover the whole tray with tinfoil.  Roast for about an hour in a medium/high oven.  When a skewer goes in and out easily they are done.  Allow to cool slightly before peeling but do not allow to go completely cold.  To save my hands from the potent, staining purple dye, I wear a pair of disposable surgical gloves, available from all good chemist shops. Once clad in this strange attire, the task of sliding the slippery skins off the warm beetroot is strangely pleasing.

So what to cook with them.  This salad is one that I recently concocted for a Riverford Supper Club  and I have to say I was particularly pleased with it.  It is delicious on its own, but also really good with a nice piece of smoked mackerel or a couple of slices of Pastrami.  

There are some other great beetroot recipes in my friend Jane Baxter's wonderful "Riverford Farm Cook Book" including the fabulous Beetroot Haters' Soup, a delicious Beetroot Gratin and a surprisingly good Beetroot and Chocolate Brownie.  Something for everyone, and once your liver is fully cleansed, you'll have a good excuse to relax with a glass of wine or two.

Roast Beetroot and Carrot Salad with Caraway and Dill

A couple of beetroot, scrubbed
A few carrots, peeled and cut into quarters lengthwise or baby carrots
Caraway Seeds (lightly toasted)
Small bunch of Dill, chopped
Bag of salad leaves
Some very good Sherry vinegar and some very good Extra Virgin olive oil
Sea Salt and Freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Drizzle carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper roast for 20-25 minutes, until beginning to caramelise. At the same time, put the beetroot into a dish with a little water and cover with tin foil and roast in the same oven, until cooked. About 1 hour depending on size. Skewer or knife should pull out easily. Remove from oven. Peel beetroot whist still warm and cut into bite size chunks. Add to the carrots. Add the caraway seeds (be generous) and most of the dill and lots of salt and pepper. Check seasoning.
Mix together the vinegar and mustard. Add salt and pepper and whisk until thick. Slowly add the olive oil to make vinaigrette. Check seasoning and add a little water if two thick. Use to dress the salad and top with the carrots and beetroot. Finally sprinkle the last of the dill on top.



  1. These look a fine crop of beetroot and your recipe very tasty. For the first time last year I managed to grow dill, specifically to go with my beetroot. The beetroot also grew really well and I was looking forward to lots of dill and beetroot dishes. When I went to harvest my beetroot though, every single one had been hollowed out by voles - I was mightily distressed I can tell you and have consequently been deprived of beetroot. Normally, I would make some sort of chocolate and beetroot cake & this year I was planning on trying out Jane's brownies. Hey ho, am crossing my fingers for this year.

  2. What beautiful beetroot, I love them roasted and covered in cheese sauce.

  3. That looks stunning. I am rather partial to beetroot, both fresh and pickled. yum!

  4. ps I love your blog. So glad you entered. I am off to add you to my blogroll :)

  5. BEAUTIFUL blog and post! Thanks so much for entering Herbs on Saturday too, and I ADORE beetroot! Karen

  6. PS: Just added you to my Blogroll!


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