Beetroot

Beetroot is becoming much more popular and has come a long way since it was mainly found in jars, pickled with vinegar.

Supermarket sales have seen a 30% - 40% increase and it can now be found not only fresh or vacuum packed but also processed into breakfast cereals, snacks and health drinks.

Adam Whitehead, vegetable and salads buyer for M & S, reports rising sales in juice, salads, roast veg mix and a popular burger.

The health aspect has been picked up by nutritionists who point out that the vegetable is rich in iron and magnesium and can help lower blood pressure.

Traditional purple varieties are deemed to have the best flavour while Petersham nurseries in Surrey grow a much loved Victorian variety known as Burpee’s Golden which has a nutty taste. While a variety called Bulls Blood is grown for its delicious bitter sweet leaves which are good in salads.

Whole fresh Beetroot can be boiled until tender and the skin removed when cool enough to handle (use rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands). They can then be cut into chunks if large, seasoned with fresh ground pepper, dressed with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped parsley or chives.

Alternatively roast them whole in their skin to retain maximum flavour; small beet work best with this method or if larger they can be cut into chunks and roasted, drizzled with olive or rapeseed oil, along with other vegetables.

The beets are a favourite of Josh Katz chef at Berber & Q in London who pairs it with duck or game birds such as pheasant, partridge and pigeon.  A salad of beetroot, feta cheese, hazelnuts and orange also appears on the menu.

Served with beef is another tasty combination particularly if made into chrain, the pungent East European relish of beetroot and horseradish.

Foods that go well with beetroot

Fish - salmon, pickled herring

Meet - poultry, beef

Cheese - feta, goat’s cheese, pecorino

Nuts - pecans, walnuts

Fruit - apples, oranges, pomegranates

Vegetables - chilli,

Drinks - kale, apple, carrot, lemon, coconut

Sweets - chocolate

Recipe for Curried Beetroot

Ingredients:

350g of raw beetroot peeled and cut into chunks

110g onion peeled and chopped

225g tomatoes peeled or can of chopped tomatoes

1 small red or green birdseye chilli or similar

3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil or similar

1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds

2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon of plain flour

1 pinch of salt

200ml water

Method:

Prepare all the vegetables and have them ready in bowls - TIP when cooking a curry I find it helps to have all the ingredients ready to add at the right time to avoid being distracted with preparation during the cooking process.

Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan and add the cumin seeds, chilli, garlic and onions. Cook over a moderate heat until the mixture begins to colour. Add the flour and cook for a minute while stirring.

Add the beet, tomatoes, water and salt. Bring to the boil then turn the heat to low and simmer until tender. If the sauce is too thin cook over a moderate heat to reduce to the preferred consistency.

This curry can be prepared in advance and reheated.

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