Beetroot three ways
Red, orange and yellow feature highly in our autumn vegetable basket, from pumpkin to pomegranate, we feel blessed to have these rich, earthy, autumnal flavours at our table. Beetroot holds a special place in our heart so we wanted to dedicate a few words to it.
Beetroot is more readily associated with Northern and Eastern European cuisines – think borsht (beetroot soup) or rodbetsallad (beetroot salad). But this autumnal root vegetable is also widespread in Northern Italy, and as you would expect, there is also a local variety, la Tonda di Chioggia – Chioggia’s round, named after the charming town overlooking the Venice lagoon, which also names a very special type of radicchio.
The Italian name for beetroot is barbabietola, the chard’s beard. This is because it’s tradition in Italy to eat both the root and the leaves, for example by frying them both together in a pan, with olive oil, salt and herbs, to make a quick and tasty side (dice the beet, fry in oil for 5 minutes, then add the sliced leaves and herbs, until ready).
Here are 3 recipes to try with this vegetable which is also wonderfully good for you.
BEETROOT AND LENTIL TABBOULEH
- A handful of flat leaf parsley
- A handful of fresh mint
- 200g radishes
- 2 beetroot, peeled and quartered
- 1 red apple, cored, quartered and sliced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 250g quinoa, cooked
- 400g cooked green lentils
- Juice of 1 lemon
This is an incredibly quick and easy recipe. Chop the herbs, radishes and beetroot finely. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and then season to taste. Dress with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and lemon juice, lay on a large platter and serve.
We like this as a stand alone dish for lunch or alongside roasted lamb, mackerel or a selection of goats cheeses.
BEETROOT SALAD WITH CARROT, ZUCCHINI AND PISTACHIO
We enjoyed this salad immensely at a dinner at the Fabbrica winery near to Pienza recently. A truly beautiful spot nestled in the Val d’Orcia in Southern Tuscany and extremely worthy of a visit www.fabbricapienza.com
These ingredients are all readily available in early autumn in Tuscany, but few people put them together in this way in these parts. To us, this exhibited acute awareness of flavour, texture and season – something that Fabbrica Pienza exudes in their wines and olive oil as well.
- 4 small beetroots, peeled and sliced in to fine discs
- 2 pale green zucchini, sliced in to fine discs
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced in to fine discs
- Flat leaf parsley
- Shelled pistachio nuts
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Dash of maple syrup
Serves 6 as a starter or side dish
Once all of the raw vegetables are finely sliced, dress them well in a bowl. Then lay out flat on individual plates interweaving the red, orange and green discs. Sprinkle the pistachio nuts and flat leaf parsley over the top and serve.
PANSARIA ME SKORDALIA (beetroot and potato puree)
This dish is real comfort food for me, transporting me back to my days in Greece, but it also reminds me of the early days in London when we loved going to The Real Greek in Hoxton Square, wow, that was a long time ago J
Pansaria is the beetroot salad, you can serve this a number of ways, but I like to keep it pretty simple. It goes alongside Skordalia, which is a rich potato and garlic puree. These two work supremely well with white fish and/or flat bread.
2 large beetroots, boiled and peeled
The beetroot leaves, blanched
1tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
5 medium potatoes boiled
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
half a cup of water
For the beetroot side dish, keep it simple to retain the wonderful natural flavour. Having boiled the beetroot and leaves, season with Maldon salt, black petter, ground coriander and add a simple red wine vinegar/EVOO dressing.
For the Skordalia, wash, peel and boil the potatoes on a low heat for about 20 minutes until soft.
In a food processor put half a cup of boiling water (you can use the potato water if you like), plus the garlic, red wine vinegar and seasoning. Roughly chop the potatoes and add in. Pour in the EVOO gradually as you would for mayonnaise. If you don’t like your skordalia too angry, add the garlic cloves to the boiling potatoes for the last 5 minutes and this will give a milder effect.
When making skordalia, the potatoes must be blended when hot – otherwise it becomes lumpy.