A good burger NEEDS a slice of beetroot between its buns and above the meat patty. That is the kiwi way. I was making homemade burgers for tea the other day and reached into the fridge for the jar of beetroot, but even lurking at the back with the nasturtium seed ‘poor man’s capers’ that are ok but we rarely use them, the pickled green beans that were ‘interesting’ and 3 jars of gherkin with a single slice floating in each, the cheese that must have gotten lost down there in the back because it had gone quite hard and a cucumber stub that we should have finished off a week ago, and would have, had it not been pushed to the back, there was not a sign of beetroot.
So I went to my larder and rummaged around there. I found a few things I’d forgotten about – jams and relishes that were too good to have slipped my memory and pulled them towards the front. I moved all of the older jars to within reach so they would get eaten first and made sure my most recent additions were on the top shelf so they could mature, or wouldn’t jump the queue and cause some other jam to languish for possibly years in a dark corner. But I couldn’t find any beetroot, so we had to go without.
The garden had beetroot in it. It had been there a long time. Almost too long. I sowed the seeds enthusiastically in the spring, in the greenhouse with all of the other spring time seeds. They could have been sown out in the open, in the ground where they are to live all season, but the spring was soggy and it just wasn’t as nice as in the warm cosy greenhouse. Besides when I grow them indoors I can indulge in my control freakery and space them out nicely. Each seed is actually a corky cluster of 1 – 3 seeds and so then you have to do the dreaded thinning. I hate waste. But if I start them in seed trays I can just separate them out once they get their true leaves and they all get a chance to grow big and get eaten.
Then when the weather warmed up I spaced them out about 20cm apart and waited, making sure they are well watered, although in this summer that wasn’t too much of a problem. They are such a low maintenance crop, nothing really bothers them and they just do their thing and grow big. They are so versatile as you can eat them raw in salads and I made a delish one the other night with pear, raw beetroot, mint and lemon juice dressing. Beetroot goes great in a chocolate muffin, but best of all, it is a pantry staple just sliced and pickled.
So now the larder has been replenished, and our burgers once again can live up to the kiwi tradition of a slice of beetroot in its midst.
Come again soon – once I’ve pickled peppers and onions, the garden will show me what to do next.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
NB: Scroll over the photos for the recipe