All my life up until about six weeks ago, beetroot was that vinegar-smelling stuff in a can that only weirdos, including my younger child, actually liked.
Callum loves beetroot. Back in our McDonalds-eating days, he would order a McOz with extra beetroot. He gets a tin of beetroot in his Christmas stocking. He freaking loves beetroot.
So I decided to grow him some. I got a punnet of seedlings and planted them in groups of four or five, expecting most of them to die of transplant stress. They all lived. I separated them out again. They still all lived. I thought ‘what the hell am I going to do with all this beetroot?’.
The last of the crop.
My grand plan of preserving it in slices, reminiscent of the canned stuff, suffered an irredeemable setback when I Googled ‘beetroot recipes’ and discovered the huge world of amazing things you can make from beetroot.
It started with roasted beetroot hummus dip. Progressed through beetroot soup to beetroot relish and red velvet beetroot muffins. There are three left from that original planting, and none have been sliced up and preserved in jars. I just put in another 36 seedlings. Next trick is to grow them from seed.
Beetroot, un-pickled and un-canned, is sweet and slightly nutty in flavour. While it is fun to cook with, it does leave a trail of reddish-purple juice all over the kitchen.
Roasted in olive oil, it makes a great addition to your ordinary roast vegetables, or you can then whiz it up with chickpeas and garlic to make a tasty pink hummus. There are loads of different beetroot soup recipes, or you can freestyle it with some other root vegetables and experiment with spices.
This beetroot relish is sweet and goes well with cold meat or in toasted sandwiches with melted cheese.
1 brown onion, finely chopped (or grated)
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Boil beetroot for 20 minutes or until just tender. Rinse under cold water. Wearing rubber gloves, peel and grate the beetroot.
Combine onion, apple, sugar, vinegar and cloves in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add beetroot. Simmer for 45 minutes or until mixture is syrupy. Carefully spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal.
I am always looking for healthy, alternatively-sweetened muffin recipes, and if they include vegetables that is even better. This cupcake recipe is incredibly easy, and goes great with a cream cheese topping.
Beetroot Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 large beetroot, washed and grated, raw
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 170C and line a cupcake tray with 12 paper cases.
Blend all ingredients together, in blender or with stick mixer, until batter is smooth. Spoon into cupcake cases.
Bake for 40 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
Beetroot is the another new favourite that I might never have learned about if I had not grown it. The beauty of it is that it also grows in the cooler months, so I might get some into jars for sandwich topping after all. Or maybe Callum can try some of the relish on his lunch.