Beetroot

Beetroot

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
Serves
4

A root vegetable with a bulbous shape and rich, sweet, red flesh of a unique texture. To avoid losing any of the rich red colour, beetroot is not peeled or cut before cooking. Cooked beetroot is delicious sliced and heated with a little chopped onion and garlic, or with a spoonful of chopped horseradish folded through. Diced freshly cooked beetroot heated through in the juice and grated zest of an orange is delicious. Grated raw beetroot seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice is often added to a salad plate.

When buying fresh beetroot, look for those that are smooth and firm to touch and a good, round shape. Choose small- to medium-size ones as they are more tender. Raw beetroot should stay fresh in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 1 week.

Beetroot has always been one of the most popular tinned vegetables. Usually pickled in a mild vinegar solution, it comes in various ways: whole baby beetroot, sliced, diced or cut into julienne strips.

To cook: Beetroot are usually boiled whole, but may also be baked in the oven.

Boiled beetroot: Cut off the stems about 5 cm above the beetroot. Wash, but leave whole and do not peel. Place in cold unsalted water to cover and cook, with the lid on, until tender when pierced with a skewer. Very old beetroot may take anything up to 3 hours, although most beetroot will be cooked in 30–40 minutes. When tender, drain (reserving a little of the liquid) and slip off the skin. To serve beetroot hot, leave whole or cut into slices, dice or cut into segments. Reheat gently in reserved liquid, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add butter and vinegar or lemon juice as desired.

Baked beetroot: Beetroot may be baked in a preheated moderate oven for 1 hour or until tender. Leave whole and unpeeled, as for boiled beetroot (above), and peel when cooked.

Cold beetroot: Cook and peel beetroot as above, then slice, dice or quarter. Marinate in vinegar or vinaigrette dressing, with a little cooking liquid added to preserve the colour, and chill until required. Seasonings such as sugar, spring onions or parsley may be added to taste.

Sautéed beetroot: Peel and dice 3 beetroot. Melt 60 g butter in a frying pan, add beetroot and season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir over medium heat for 1 minute; reduce heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley.

Shredded beetroot: Peel 3 beetroot and grate coarsely. Melt 60 g butter in a heavy saucepan, add beetroot and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir over low heat for 2–3 minutes until beetroot is well coated with butter, then add 2 tablespoons water, cover and cook for 7–10 minutes, stirring frequently until tender-crisp. Remove from heat and toss with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons chopped parsley and chives and ½ teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 pinch dried.

Beetroot with orange glaze: Boil 3 beetroot as above; peel, dice and set aside. Melt 30 g butter in a heavy saucepan, stir in 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 teaspoons flour and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Blend in 190 ml orange juice and stir until boiling. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add beetroot and heat, stirring gently, until heated through.

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