Getting the most out of your Beetroot
It can be mightily messy to prepare if you’re not armed with rubber gloves and an old chopping board but oh boy all the blood and gore is worth it. Possibly my favourite root vegetable, beetroot season in the UK runs from July to January and tapers off in February and March. So to eke out the very last of this seasonal produce, I’ve created two recipes below to make the most of this sweet and earthy vegetable using the “meat” in a comforting creamy risotto with depth and the stalks to create a deliciously light and wholesome supper soup.
I haven’t done any food and poetry pairings for a little while, so I’ve found a rather brilliant poem about beetroot to pair with these recipes – forget wine, all you need with food is a good poem, it’s far better for the soul. I first heard this poem which you’ll find at the end of this post, well over a year ago, it was read aloud by the author at a Magma reading in London, where a friend, one of the other winning poets, was also reading. It’s a highly catchy poem which has stuck with me since – I hope you like it too.
Beetroot Leaf with Butter Bean, Garlic, Lemon Broth
Beetroot leaves from 6 – 8 beetroots (the fresher the better)
Half a tin of butter beans
1 diced potato (roughly the size of a 20p piece)
1 finely diced onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 litres of vegetable stock
Half a lemon
Drizzle of olive oil
- Make sure you clean the soil off your beetroot leaves carefully and trim away any insect ridden parts
- To make your own stock: Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes a chopped celery, potato, onion and carrot, two cloves of garlic with a bouquet garni of bay leaf, parsley stalks and thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Strain and discard the vegetables, setting the liquid to one side. Or you can use stock such as Bouillon
- In a saucepan, fry onion, potato in some olive oil and after five minutes add the garlic. Fry for a further minute. Add the stock to the pan.
- Chop the beetroot leaves into chunky pieces, finely chopping the thin red stalks.
- Add the butter beans to the pan and cook for five minutes
- Add the beetroot stalks and leaves and cook until just tender, around 3 – 4 minutes
- Serve in bowls with a squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil and some black pepper.
Beetroot Risotto with Sour Cream & Dill
500g fresh beetroot
1 ½ litre of vegetable stick
300g Arborio risotto rice
1 medium glass of white wine
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 – 5 tablespoons of sour cream
50g parmesan or a veggie alternative
3 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves
Half a lemon juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, crushed
1) Peel and chop the beetroot into medium sided wedges and coat in olive oil, some sea salt and black pepper. Roast in a 180 degree oven for around an hour until soft.
2) Use your own stock as per previous recipe (and if there’s any leftover soup, stain it and you can use the liquid). Or boil kettle and make stock with stock cubes – I really like vegetarian Kallo.
3) When the beetroot is cooked, in a food processor blend around a third of the beets and chop the remainder into small pieces.
4) In a frying pan, melt half the butter over a medium heat. Stir in the onions and sweat gently for 8 mins until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and fry for a further minute.
5) Stir the rice into the onions until completely coated in the butter, then stir continuously until the rice is shiny and the edges of the grain start to look transparent.
6) Pour in the wine and simmer until totally evaporated. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time and stirring the rice over a low heat for 25-30 mins, until the rice is cooked al dente (with a slightly firm, starchy bite in the middle).
7) The risotto should be creamy and slightly soupy. When you draw a wooden spoon through it, there should be a wake that holds for a few moments but not longer.
8) When the risotto is just done, stir in the beetroot puree and pieces then add the cheese, butter and leave to rest for a few mins. Serve the risotto with fresh dill and sour cream
Possibly too obvious a choice for my beetroot supper, but nevertheless, I loved this poem too much to not include it here. And well, if you can’t pair this poem to a beetroot risotto then what would you what would you pair it to?
By Paul Stephenson
Dear Lord Sugar, Alan if I may, I know how important beetroot
has been to you, how you started out humbly boiling beetroot
as a whippersnapper, lifting these really humungous beetroots
into old tin bath tubs, then cooking them up for the beetroot
man at market. You cut your teeth, so to speak, on beetroot.
I’ve repeatedly seen the way you go bright purple as a beetroot
when you have to fire people who wouldn’t know a beetroot
from a turnip, like the backstabbing women in glossy beetroot
lipstick and men in naff off-the-peg clobber like spotty beetroot
sock or ties; cocky young apprentices not worthy of beetroot.
We all still miss Margaret. I wonder if she’ll find any beetroot
referred to in the papyrus manuscripts she’s studying. Beetroot
probably wasn’t eaten in ancient Egypt. Pharaohs and beetroot,
I don’t know, though wouldn’t rule out the notion of beetroot
having a hieroglyph, which they likely painted using beetroot!
You ever suggested to the producers to incorporate beetroot
into one of the tasks? Like having to market a new beetroot-
scented perfume, or scour wholesalers for some rare beetroot
extract, or travel to a muddy organic farm and dig up beetroot
to flog to hob-nob gaffs for extortionate borscht from beetroot?
I bet there’s still quite some mileage to be had from beetroot.
Actually, I have drawn up this small business plan re: beetroot.
My idea, and it will make you millions, is to be true to beetroot
by pioneering a car that runs on beetroot juice, bringing beetroot
mobility to new audiences who only know beetroot as beetroot.