The delights of beetroot

This is a funny little vegetable.  I’ve always grown it in my garden because it is easy to grow and you can’t have a burger without a slice of pickled beetroot.  Oh and pickled beetroot sandwiches on white bread and a thick smear of soft butter.  Oh the flavour of my childhood.  Because to be honest, that is how I’d always had them.  Pickled in a jar, done by my mum or bought from the store.  That is how they came – pickled and if they didn’t, then you pickled them!

Beetroot

Beetroot, such an easy crop to grow. Just plant and forget for 8 – 10 weeks.

I didn’t realise you could have them any other way.  So I carried on the tradition and grew them and pickled them.  In the early days I grew the normal round ones – but the problem was I grew them too well and they grew too big to fit in a jar.  This was easily fixed by a change of variety to Cylindra which as the name alludes to, grows in a long cylinder shape.  My problems were over, I could slice them up nicely and they would fit in the pickle jar like it was meant for it.

Pickled beetroot

Pickled beetroot – part of the Kiwi culture.

You can see how I pickle them >HERE<  

My first outrageous adventure with beetroot was born out of necessity.  Back in 2014 a TV producer approached me and said we are doing a show called Cook the Books.  It was for chefs with cook books.   All the best names of Kiwi culinary geniuses were getting involved.  And they wanted me, because there were recipes in my first gardening book, The Good Life!   I was flattered and of course I said yes.

TV show filming

It is not everyday you have a film crew in your kitchen

The funny thing is I’m a bit of a slap dash kind of cook and when I contributed the recipes for the book the publishers said “Sarah, people will want to cook these recipes, can you alter them to make them more user friendly”  so I took them to my brother, who is an excellent chef to swap splodges of this and a dash of that for something more metric.  He came back with “Sarah that isn’t how you make soup!”  But I had made a soup like that and it was a very nice soup!

Beetroot salad with halloumi cheese

My famous beetroot salad with halloumi cheese. It looked much better on TV!

So here I was about to be on a TV show.  The format was the famous ones had segment one and three and in between the adverts someone less famous but with a recipe book filled the space.  I was sandwiched between Chelsea Winter and couldn’t have been more chuffed.  I never met her though.

TV show filming

When there isn’t much growing in the garden it is great to have cute lambs to focus on instead

The problem for me as a gardener was they wanted to film in my garden in September.  There is nothing in the garden in September.  It is smack bang in the middle of the hungry gap.  All there was in the garden was a determine stand of beetroot.  Such a blessing I can grow it all year round.  So I developed a fab recipe centred on beetroot.  I thinly sliced them and slowly baked them, making chips, I made of bed of tender young beetroot leaves, sliced red onion, marinated in lemon juice went into the simple salad.  The now pink lemon juice was mixed with salt and pepper and sunflower oil to make the dressing.  And the final addition was some halloumi cheese I whipped up from scratch from a show sponsors cheese making kit.  (The foolhardy thing was it never occurred to me to make a backup…  just in case.  Fortunately there was no need for just in case.)  I ran the recipe past my chef brother and then it was filmed it for all to see!

Beetroot Chocolate Chip muffins

These Beetroot Chocolate Chip muffins were a winner. I wonder what I did with the recipe so I can make them again.

Then I went back to pickling them, and making the odd chocolate chip filled beetroot muffin here and there.  Until recently.  Looking for ideas for quick and easily salads to feed crowds I boiled some up and diced them into dishes with feta cheese and a vast array of possibilities like nuts, onion, carrots or whatever else I had on hand.  I have been free and easy with my beetroot associates and have managed to pull it off every time.  Beetroot has become my friend.

Beetroot juice

I’m not sure I’m that into the health kick thing enough to make beetroot juice an every day thing.

But by far the most delish was the dip I made recently to go with some kohlrabi chips.  I did a brief search of the internet and saw the general gist for the recipes and threw cooked beetroot, a blob of sour cream, a chunk of feta cheese, some cumin, salt and pepper and some red wine vinegar – only because I didn’t have a lemon and the red colour matched, into my blender and moments later I had the most delish dip.

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I may never go back to pickling.  Beetroot has been elevated in my kitchen and is no longer a humble garnish for a burger – although that is nice too.

Come again soon – we are now passed the middle of summer and the garden is at the that productive stage that makes it all worthwhile.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

 

NB:  I have fished out the recipes for the TV show beetroot salad and the beetroot muffins for those who are interested. The beetroot dip is loosely described above.

beetroot and halloumi cheese salad recipe

beetroot muffin recipe

19 Comments on “The delights of beetroot

  1. How funny! I was about to say that! I knew them only as vegetables that were meant to be pickled. I was in my late 30s when I ate cooked (unpickled) beets. Although excellent both ways, they are best pickled. They are sort of the vehicles for all the pickle awesomeness! I will only eat them cooked plain after enough have been pickled. The greens are added bonus that, of course, do not get pickled.

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    • I will be pickling some soon – for the burgers, but I suspect most will end up as a dip or a salad. I’ve sown more seed so we don’t run out. Fortunately I can grow them all year round here. : o)

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  2. My Mum used to cook Beetroot slice into a bowl add vinegar and that was it as part of a salad. YUK I do not like it that way so I cook skin then dice it while still hot and eat eat along side other cooked veg like Carrots, Potatoes and Greens. I also added some to a pasta sauce which turned out an interesting colour but quite delicious.

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  3. I love roasted baby beetroots with a dash of maple syrup to sweeten (or honey would probably do the trick too). Or boil and cube them, and have them cold with red onion, topped with greek yoghurt and pistachios. Delicious! Such a surprisingly versatile vegetable.

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  4. Beets were at my childhood table also. I have not done anything with them but you have made me hungry. Maybe I’ll try some this year perhaps. I don’t think I’ll grow them but will get some from the farmer’s market. I think I stopped eating them because there was no one to pickle them properly. My husband was in the Air Force and we moved too often to grow them myself. Now I’m too old to put that much work in. I very much enjoyed reading about all your ideas on what to do with the beets.

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    • Pickling beetroot is quite easy because of the high acid content of the vinegar. It is definitely a flavour from my childhood. I hope they find their way back to your table soon. : o)

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  5. I quit picking the roots one year and now have three year old chiogga beets that give me greens year round. You are tempting me to grow more for roots again though…

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    • The leaves are really not utilised much here at all and are more likely to end up on the compost than they are on the plate, but they are actually really nice. Maybe I’ll leave a few for winter salads…. : o)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So right there Sarah, can not have a burger without Beetroot. I put up a post on The Te Awamutu & surrounding areas Grapevine – info sharing group about my home made burger I had for dinner last night and got a good response.

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    • I think we may need to do home made burgers – we haven’t done them in a while, but they are always a fav. Funny how you go through cycles of doing the same thing a lot for dinner and then somehow slip into other options. : o)

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  7. We love all the beetroot, any way it comes and also have a very old gnarled root that provides lots of salad leaves. My question is why do they sometimes lift themselves out of the soil when growing, so the root is exposed. Now I’m trying to grow more, I’m wondering how to keep them ‘in’ the ground?

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