VegBox Recipes

Beetroot

Beetroot There's so much more to beetroot than the sliced, pickled variety you can get in supermarkets. Whether you're a lover or a loather of the beetroot-in-jars, it's worth trying fresh beetroot. The flavour is delicate and they're both easy to cook and grow. So when you plan your vegetable "garden", do bear beetroot in mind ... their leaves look fabulous in borders or deep enough troughs on window-ledges.

In Season?
In season (roughly) from May to October
Buy?
Firm, unblemished roots, unwashed keep longer. Don’t buy the wrinkly ones!
Store?
In a cool place, for a week or two. Under proper conditions, will keep longer. If you’re using the leaves, these will keep in the fridge for a day or two
Freeze?
If cooked, yes.
Cook?
Twist off the leaves, leaving the leaf base intact. Trim the root. Scrub. Roast for an hour or boil / pressure cook for up to 20 minutes.

More Beetroot Information

BeetrootBeetroot is in season from around May to October in the UK, although many think of it as a winter vegetable, because it's a root crop.

It would seem that eating the traditional purple root is somewhat of a new thing. There are references from the Ancient Greeks about the leaves, but the roots were long, thin and not eaten until the 1500s, at least.

Both the root and the leaves can be eaten, though few of us have probably tried the leaves.

Let’s say loud and clear that there is way more to beetroot than pickling! Early in its season it can be enjoyed raw in salads, and later in the season it’s delicious boiled or even baked.

Baby beetroot are delicious grated raw, in salads (such as with Beetroot and Fennel Salad With Sage Croutons).

Since Roman times, beetroot has been prized to treat disorders of the blood and was used as a laxative and a fever reducer.

From a nutritional perspective, raw beetroot is a brilliant source of vitamin C, though this is water-soluble, so bear that in mind when boiling. It’s also a great source of iron and is currently considered to be one of the multitude of “superfoods” that we should be eating more of. Recent research has linked beetroot juice to a reduction in the risk of heart disease.

But it’ll still stain your fingers and chopping board, no matter how good it is for you!

In fact, beetroot is famous for its staining potential – see the “What to do with … “ section for tips on this.

What To Do With Beetroot

You can eat beetroot leaves, as well as the roots. Use the leaves as soon as possible after picking and simply shred them in a salad or cook like spinach.

For the roots, get these when they’re smaller, if you can, because they’ll be sweeter and less woody.

Always twist off the leaves, leaving a little of the stalks on the root. This means you're less likely to leak all the beetroot juices during cooking.

I don't usually bother peeling beetroot. I just scrub them with a vegetable brush and peel them after cooking, if I think my guests will be bothered!

You can either boil them for 15-20 minutes (cut in half if they're larger than a golf-ball size) or you can roast them.

If you're going to roast them, do so at 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4 for an hour or so, until they are soft.

Staining
Beetroot stains.
It's a fact.
If you're cooking it whole, the best way to keep the colour in the beetroot is just to twist off the green tops. Don't cut the beetroot until you serve it.

I tend to cook them and peel them afterwards, if I peel them at all. And if you're peeling them - wear gloves if you don't want purple nails for a week! Don't make the mistake I have done in the past of eating beetroot whilst wearing a white top. Silly girl!

Little Known Beetroot Facts

Little Known Facts from the beetroot fan club - www.lovebeetroot.co.uk:

- Beetroot contains high amounts of boron, which may explain its reputation as an ancient aphrodisiac
- Beetroot also contains betaine, a substance that relaxes the mind and is used to treat depressionů so if you needed any more excuse to tuck inů
- The colouring from beetroot is used to colour things like strawberry jam and tomato puree
- Massaging your scalp each night with the cooled water from boiling beetroots is reputed to cure dandruff

Pickled Beetroot
Personally, I like shop-bought pickled beetroot. But this recipe for home pickling is much tastier and it's fun to experiment with the ingredients.
Ingredients
  • Up to 2kg fresh beetroot
  • 1 ½ litres vinegar - either malt vinegar or wine vinegar, depending on your preference
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • About 10 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf (dried
  • 100g Sugar (optional

Method
  1. Chop the stalks off the beetroot, leaving an inch at the end. Scrub the beetroot gently to remove any mud, but taking care not to damage the skin. Wrap them in foil and bake at 180 degrees C for up to 2 hours, until they are tender.

  2. While the beetroot is baking, make the vinegar mixture:
    • Put the vinegar, coriander, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf in a large pan
    • Bring to the boil for about 1 minute.
    • Turn off the heat and cover the pan.
    • Leave the flavours to infuse for about 2 hours.
    • Drain before using.

    Note: if you prefer sweet pickled beetroot, add 250g sugar to the vinegar before heating. Stir well to make sure the sugar has dissolved.

  3. If the skins were thick, you can peel the beetroot - it's up to you. Wear gloves, if peeling, or it'll take ages for your finger nails to return to their usual colour!

  4. Slice the beetroot into 1/2 cm slices.

  5. Put the slices into sterilised jars.
    • Wash the jars in hot, soapy water and rinse well
    • Put upside down in an oven at 100 degrees C for 20 minutes
    • Allow to cool slightly and then fill whilst still warm
    • Use a vinegar-resistant lid (i.e. plastic-coated, so no metal comes into contact with the vinegar, or this would corrode and ruin the pickle)

  6. Bring the vinegar mixture to the boil and then fill the jars.

  7. Seal the jars with an airtight, vinegar resistant lid.

  8. Leave for a few weeks before eating. Gently shake the jars every week or so, to allow the flavours to infuse.

Cupboard-To-Table

About 1 hour

Suggested Beetroot Recipes

Baked Beetroot

This recipe is best done with baby beetroots, whilst they're nearer the size of golf balls than tennis balls. They cook more quickly and taste sweeter.

Beetroot & Orange Salad

The combination of beetroot, orange and coriander is fragrant and the flavours really compliment each other.

Beetroot and Celeriac Gratin

This recipe for beetroot and celeriac gratin is on test - but still available for you to try. Why not give it a go?

Beetroot and Cheese Pie

This recipe was sent in to us by Judy B, who says:

"Unusual tried and tested favourite with family and freinds. Great cold for a picnic. Highly nutritious and calorific. Have to confess I got this from a recipe book twenty or so years ago but don't remember which one!"

If anyone knows the provenance of this recipe, do let us know. And if anyone makes it and wants to send us a picture and some comments or variations, we'd love to hear from you.

Beetroot and Fennel Salad With Sage Croutons

This recipe combines raw fennel and beetroot with freshly cooked sage croutons, halloumi cheese and an orange dressing, to make a deliciously crunchy summer salad.

Beetroot And Orange Soup

The fantastic colour of this soup makes a wonderful change from the earthy colours of other winter root vegetables and the greens of winter brassicas.

Beetroot Hummus

Beetroot is one of those vegetables that seems to quickly build into gluts.

There's only so much you can pickle or bake, before you start to get bored.

So here's a quick and nutritious recipe to use up cooked beetroot and add a new twist to a traditional dish.

Hummus is a staple of Middle Eastern cookery. Its blend of chick peas and sesame seeds are a valuable source of calcium, protein, vegetable fats, iron and B vitamins. The addition of beetroot increases the vitamin C content and adds magnesium. All of which combines to make this pretty much a super-food.

The pretty pink colour makes it fun for kids, so you might even be able to persuade little ones to eat this on toast or with fresh veg sticks!

You can either make this from scratch, with dried chick peas and fresh beetroot or you can whiz it up in 5 minutes using pre-cooked beetroot and a can of chick peas / frozen chick peas.

Beetroot Jelly

This recipe was sent into us by Carole L, who says

"Beetroot Jelly was created as a posh picnic accompaniment when a group of us used to go every summer to the outdoor theatre at Hever Castle. One of us would take a whole cooked salmon whilst the other eleven had to produce an unusual side dish!"

We're really excited to add this recipe to our listings, Carole, so thanks so much for sending it in. If any of you lovely cooks out there have a go at this, do send us a photo and your comments.

Beetroot Soup (Borscht)

This recipe is a great way of using end of season beetroot. It is simple and delicious - just beware its staining potential!
The potatoes are optional and aren't usually included in the traditional Borscht recipe, but they help thicken the soup, which makes it less messy for kids to eat.

Boiled Beetroot

This recipe is best done with baby beetroots, whilst they're nearer the size of golf balls than tennis balls. They cook more quickly and taste sweeter.

Caramelised Beetroot

This recipe is great because it brings out the sweetness of the beetroot and you can leave it to cook in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Cod with Chicory and Baby Beetroot

This recipe was provided for us by the VegBox Recipes Number 1 Chicory Fan, Denise Tolson. We don't often feature fish recipes, but this one sounds so delicious, and is so easy, that we couldn't overlook it. Thanks Denise!

Jam-Packed Summer Vegetable Risotto

This ruby-red risotto not only looks stunning but tastes amazing AND it can be adapted to use whatever's in your box this week.

Pickled Beetroot

Personally, I like shop-bought pickled beetroot. But this recipe for home pickling is much tastier and it's fun to experiment with the ingredients.

Pink Mash

This recipe for beetroot pink mash is vibrant, packed with nutrients and really tasty. It's a great way to experiment with fresh beetroot. Why not give it a go? Thanks to Natasha Mangion for sending this in!

Natasha says: "My friend Karen & I went through a stage where we were interested in Chakras and colour therapies and we used to experiment with what we called 'Chakra Cooking'. This recipe is both fun and Very colourful and really gets you in touch with your Base Chakra which is Red.

I just like it because it's an interesting way to liven up mashed potato and it really looks striking!! Nice and bright on those dark winter days!

It's also a great way to get kids to eat veg."

Red Onion, Beetroot & Boursin Tart

Delicious red onion and beetroot and boursin tart. Recipe provided by '5 a day box' in Wiltshire.

Satisfying Salad of Carrot, Beetroot and Balsamic Vinegar

This fabulous combo was sent into us by Karina L in New Zealand. Karina says:

"I saw a woman eating it one day and it looked scrummy so I asked her what it was. It's a very good liver cleanser, apparently!"

We love that you asked her what it was, Karina, and we're delighted that you did.

Vegetable Tempura

Although it's deep-fried, as long as the oil is hot enough and you drain the tempura after cooking, it's not that bad...! Quick, delicious and a nice change from sticking your veg in a curry!

Warm Beetroot, Broad Bean and Potato Salad

This recipe was submitted by Karen L, who says:

"I looked in my fridge and had a lot of the above and didn't know what to do with it all. I'm sorry I don't measure the ingredients I just bung it all together and its what I have to hand, however the result is a very tasty mess! I used to hate broad beans, having been forced to eat them as a child, but i find if they are skinned they are actually quote tasty. Its nice to eat a meal were all the ingredients were grown on my allotment."

You put us to shame, Karen - this is a wonderful creation and all the more exciting given that you grew all the ingredients!

Watercress, Spinach & Goats' Cheese Salad

I invented this recipe one lunchtime when we were all craving salad - in the depths of winter. Our local farm shop had some fresh watercress and mixed winter leaves and the rest is, as they say, history.

The warm goats' cheese makes this salad a filling winter or springtime treat.

Got one? Send us your recipe!

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