Seasonal local food recipe No.388 – Raw Chioggia beetroot salad with lemon Ⓥ


We have some of those candy-striped ‘Chioggia’ heritage beetroot in this week’s veg boxes. They have a sweet and tender flesh which is more fun eaten raw, as cooking eradicates the stripes. This salad, made with lemon, is recommended by Shillingford Organics near Exeter in Devon. It’s also good if you add a little orange juice and honey as well.

Unless you’re unable to slice the beets extremely thinly, cut them into matchsticks or grate them instead.  Unlike conventional beetroot, they won’t bleed!

Serves: 4

10 minutes

2-3 Chioggia beets, depending on their size
salt and freshly cracked pepper
juice from 1 small lemon, about 2-3 tbsp
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp mustard (grainy is good)

Scrub the beets really well. Slice off the tops and trim the roots. Slice the beets as thin as possible. This is easiest if you use a mandoline.

Arrange the slices into a serving bowl, lightly seasoning them with salt and pepper as you go along. Combine the lemon juice, oil and mustard in a small jar with lid and shake well. Drizzle over the beet slices and serve.

Seasonal local food recipe No.381 – Madhur Jaffrey’s Punjabi-style beetroot


We grow a lot of beetroot, so I’m always on the outlook for new recipes. This is a subtly spicy side dish that goes well with dal, one of my  all-time favourite comfort foods.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch ground asafoetida
(or half a pinch each of onion and garlic powders)
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
2 large beetroot (about 675g), peeled and cut into 2cm dice
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼–½ tsp chilli powder
250ml water
2 medium tomatoes, blanched, peeled and finely chopped

Put the oil in a nonstick frying pan on a medium-high heat. When hot, add the asafoetida, quickly followed by the cumin seeds, and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add the fenugreek seeds, stir, then add the beetroot, ginger, coriander and cumin. Stir for two to three minutes. Add the turmeric and chilli powder, and stir for a few seconds.

Stir in the water and half a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and cook gently for 20 minutes, until the beetroot is tender. Add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered, stirring over a high heat, for another two to three minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and well combined, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Season as needed and serve.

Seasonal local food recipe No.371 – Nigel’s baked beetroot with seeded ricotta

If we hadn’t already used our beetroot I’d be tempted by this recipe featured in today’s Observer magazine.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

4 medium-sized beetroot
12 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
4 bay leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
200g ricotta cheese
1 small orange
1 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp parsley, chopped

Bring a large, deep saucepan of water to the boil and salt it generously.  Scrub and trim the beetroots, taking care not to pierce the skin. Boil them whole and unpeeled for 40-45 minutes until they are fully tender.  You should be able to pierce them effortlessly with a skewer.

Heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.  Put the ricotta in a mixing bowl.  Finely grate the zest ot the orange and add to the ricotta with the hemp and pumpkin seeds and the chopped parsley.  Season with a little salt and a few twists of black pepper.

Place a large piece of kitchen foil in a roasting tin.  When the beetroots are tender, remove them from the water, peel off the skins – they should come away easily – then place the beetroots on the foil. Put the sprigs of thyme and rosemary and the bay in a mixing bowl.  Add a little salt and black pepper, then pour in the olive oil.  Toss the seasonings and oil together then spoon over the beetroots.

Loosely scrunch the edges of the foil together to make a parcel around the beetroots, then bake for about 45 minutes. Remove the roasting tin from the oven, unwrap the foil, then put the beetroots on a serving plate.  Slice them open and place generous spoonfuls of the seeded ricotta mixture on each one.

Seasonal local food recipe No.354 – Beetroot and caraway soda bread

Frank made this loaf for Sunday lunch last weekend.  The recipe’s from Anna Jones in The Guardian. You might expect the loaf to be bright pink.  It was before it went into the oven but oddly, once baked, it turned to a more palatable shade of yellow!  Whatever the colour it tasted great.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Makes 1 x 750g loaf

300g cooked beetroot, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
100ml buttermilk (or plain yoghurt let down with a splash of milk)
200g white spelt flour
200g wholemeal spelt flour
50g pumpkin seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Put the beetroot (see the note below if you’re roasting your own), spices and buttermilk in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Put the flours, pumpkin seeds, salt, bicarbonate of soda and pepper into a large bowl and mix well.  Pour the beetroot mixture into the flours and mix with a fork until well combined, then use your hands to gently bring the lot into a rough ball. Don’t knead it though, or it will make the finished loaf tough.

Scatter some flour over a baking sheet and put your ball of dough on top. Dust with a little more flour and a few more pumpkin seeds.   Cut a deep cross in the bread, then bake for 30 – 40 minutes until golden and risen.

Remove from the oven and tap the bottom of the loaf. If you get a hollow sound, it’s perfect, so pop it on a wire rack to cool. This is delicious warm with salted or almond butter.

If you are roasting the beetroot yourself
Wash the beetroot well and trim off the stalks. Place the whole beetroot in a foil parcel, wrapped really tightly so the steam doesn’t escape. Cook for around an hour (depending on the size of your beetroot) until tender. Once cooked, allow to cool in the foil parcel, this will make it really easy to remove the skins. When cool enough to handle slip the skins off and discard. Extra roasted beetroot can be used in salads or alongside dips such as hummus.

Seasonal local food recipe No.338 – South Indian beetroot thoran Ⓥ

We had this dish for our tea last night, served with chapatis – delicious.  The recipe is from The Telegraph Food and Drink pages. Asparagus, peas, white cabbage or carrot also work well instead of beetroot.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

250 g fresh beetroot, with the leaves if possible, washed
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 coconut, smashed flesh peeled and grated
1 lemon

Peel and coarsely grate the beetroot and finely slice the leaves, then mix them together.  Heat a large frying pan over a high heat.  Add the oil and then the mustard leaves.  When the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add the curry leaves and the green chilli, then the red onion, grated beetroot and leaves.

Season with salt and continue to stir-fry for about five minutes.  Finish with the grated coconut and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Seasonal local food recipe No.316 – Beetroot and chocolate traybake

This recipe was a technical challenge in The Great Sport Relief Bake Off.  I’m going to make it tonight as a pudding for my Mum on Mothers’ Day.  I may skip the candied beetroot hearts!

Makes 12 slices

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40-50 minutes

For the cake:
250 g self raising flour
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
250 g cooked beetroot in natural juices
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
160 ml buttermilk
160 g butter, softened
230 g caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs
For the icing:
280 g cream cheese
50 g unsalted butter, softened
50 g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the candied beetroot hearts:
2 raw beetroots
200 g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a 30x20cm/12x8in traybake tin.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a bowl.  Blend the beetroot in a food processor until you have a rough purée. Put the purée in a bowl, add the vinegar and buttermilk. Mix to combine.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, followed by half the dry mixture and half the beetroot mixture.  Continue to mix gently, adding the rest of the dry ingredients and the remaining beetroot.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin and leaving it to cool completely.  Meanwhile make the icing. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until soft. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla extract until they are combined, then spread the icing onto the cooled cake.

For the beetroot hearts, thinly slice the beetroot, and cut into 12 heart shapes.  Boil the sugar in 200ml/7fl oz water until the sugar has dissolved, then add the beetroot hearts and simmer for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Using a fork, carefully remove the beetroot hearts from the hot sugar syrup and carefully lay them on paper towel to soak up any excess syrup.  Slice the cake into 12 even squares, and then decorate each square with a beetroot heart.

Seasonal local food recipe No.266 – Hugh’s Beetroot and raisin tea loaf

This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls book Veg every day.  The original recipe was for a pumkin and raisin loaf but he suggested using beetroot instead – I’m not sure about the colour!  The loaf itself is rich and sweet but also light as it doesn’t contain any butter or oil.

Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour

200g light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs, separated
200g finely grated beetroot
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
100g raisins
100g ground almonds
200g self-raising flour
a pinch of fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A generous grating of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3.  Lightly grease a loaf tin, about 20 x 10 cm, and line with baking parchment.  Using an electric whisk, beat the sugar and egg yolks together for 2-3 minutes until pale and creamy.  Lightly stir in the grated beetroot, lemon zest and juice, raisins and ground almonds.  Sift the flour, salt and spices together over the mixture and then fold them in, using a metal spoon.  In a large clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.  Stir in a heaped tablespoon of the egg white into the cake mixture to loosen it a little, then fold in the rest as lightly as you can.  Tip the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and gently level the surface.  Bake for about one hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Seasonal local food recipe No.213 – Jamie’s crunchy raw beetroot salad with feta and pear

It has to be said I’m not a great fan of beetroot but this recipe has become a staple in our household.  It is from Jamie Oliver’s book Cook with Jamie.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
No cooking!

4 beetroots, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
lemon oil dressing – the juice of half a lemon mixed with 5 tbs olive oil, seasoned and well shaken
salt and pepper
200g feta cheese
a small bunch of fresh mint, smallest leaves picked
optional: a large handful of sunflower seeds

Dress the beetroot and pear matchsticks in a little of the lemon oil dressing and season with some salt and pepper.  Taste to check the flavours are balanced and lovely, and add a little more lemon juice to check the sweetness of the pears and beetroots if you need to.

Divide the salad between four plates or put it on a big platter, crumble over the creamy white feta, and sprinkle with the baby mint leaves and the sunflower seeds if using them.

Seasonal local recipe No.205 – Beetroot marmalade Ⓥ

freshly-picked-beetroot-camel csa 04-09-09

At Camel CSA we love making preserves. Our expert grower Bridget Gould recommends this beetroot relish. She says: “It’s delicious with cheese so I’ve made some for Christmas presents.” The recipe comes from gardener-come-foodlover Alys Fowler via West Country FoodLover magazine.

Makes several jars (depending on size)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes (in two stages)

1kg beetroot
100ml balsamic vinegar
A handful each of fresh thyme and marjoram leaves
sea salt, to taste
zest and juice of one large orange
2 large red onions, finely diced
50g light brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
100g caster sugar
400ml red wine vinegar
sterilised jars with lids

Preheat the oven to 160C. Wash and peel the beetroot and cut into quarters. Place in a roasting tin with the balsamic vinegar, marjoram and thyme leaves, add az pinch of sea sla and grate over the orange zest (set aside the juice for later).  Mix everything together with your hands, cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes or until you can pierce the beetroot with a knife. Set aside to cool completely.

The following day, coarsely grate the beetroot into a bowl, scraping in any juices from the roasting tin. Place the diced onions in a large, heavy-based pan wih the light brown sugar and olive oil. Set over a very low heat and stir gently until the onions soften completely and start to caramelise.

Add the sliced garlic, grated beetroot, caster sugar, orange juice and red wine vinegar. Gently simmer for 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about two thirds, stirring from time to time to stop it from sticking. You can tell when the relish is cooked when you can draw a spoon across the botom of the pan and it will initially stay clear before refilling wih syrupy juices.

Scoop the hot relish into sterilised jars, cover with waxed discs and put on the lids. Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

Seasonal local food recipe No. 147: Nigel’s brown lentil curry Ⓥ + beetroot raita

Beetroot is everywhere at the moment – even in cakes and sumptuous desserts. Gone are the days when it only appeared soused in malt vinegar.

Nigel Slater says: “Ten years ago, beetroot was almost a goner. Available then only in pickles or occasionally in vacuum packs of four cooked and preserved globes, it is firmly in the spotlight now. It is almost impossible to find a menu that doesn’t acknowledge its newfound popularity.”

Serves 4

Preparation/ cooking time: 1 hour

250g large green or brown lentils
60g piece fresh ginger or galangal
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
3 heaped tsp garam masala
2 small red chillies
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 medium onion
400g can chopped tomatoes

For the raita:
yogurt 200ml, natural and unstrained
beetroot coarsely grated, 4 heaped tbsp
coriander to taste

Bring the lentils to the boil in a pan of deep, unsalted water, then let them simmer for 20-25 minutes, until they are quite soft.

Peel the ginger or galangal, roughly chop it then put it into the bowl of a food processor with the peeled garlic, cumin seeds, ground coriander, garam masala, red chillies, ground turmeric and enough vegetable oil to make a soft, but not runny, paste.

Peel and finely slice the onion. Warm a tbsp or two of oil in a medium, heavy-based casserole over a moderate heat. Add the onion and let it colour, stirring from time to time. When it is fragrant, golden and almost soft add the spicy paste and stir for a couple of minutes longer. Then pour in the chopped tomatoes and a can of water, add salt, and the drained, cooked lentils and leave to simmer for half an hour or so. The lentils should be soft but still retaining a little of their texture; the sauce thick.

To make the raita, put the yogurt into a small bowl, add the grated beetroot and a few leaves of coriander if you wish, then very gently fold the beetroot through the yogurt with a fork. Try not to over mix, unless you actually like vivid pink.

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