Beetroot makes for an unlikely star in these three recipes

Neither of us ever had a particular predilection towards beetroot growing up but it has definitely become something we both love to eat. It has some truly unique and wonderful qualities beyond the crinkle cut pickled stuff from a jar (although I have been known to eat pickled beetroot from a jar with relish as well).

The earthiness is distinct and balances out the sweetness. In this way, the earthiness of beetroot should be encouraged where possible. A beetroot can become clawing when just its sweetness comes through in a dish.

We have been growing beetroot in our garden in Currabinny since I was a child. Beetroot is an incredibly rewarding vegetable to grow at home. It gives you many stages of picking and eating from the early, peppery leaves, picked long before the bulbs have formed. The bulbs themselves can be eaten both as bright pink little babies and deep purple fully grown orbs.

The leaves and stalks at this stage can be washed and cooked like spinach. We make the leafy ends into a sharp, earthy pesto with plenty of garlic, lemon juice and walnuts for a rough and ready alternative to the more delicate Italian version.

The three recipes, along with the pesto, hopefully, show a good range of what you can do with beetroot. We decided against including any goats cheese as there are other, wonderful things beetroot can be paired with like citrus, salty hard cheeses like pecorino, thyme, garlic, honey and vinegar. All of the recipes, bar the tart can be easily made vegan. The pesto doesn’t have any cheese in it and the crème fraiche can be omitted from the soup.

Roast beetroot soup with beet top pesto

recipe by:Currabinny Cooks

This is an utterly delicious, wickedly pink soup bursting with flavour contrasts. The flavours here are all earthy and savoury with the pesto and crème fraiche giving you a good sharpness that cuts through any lingering sweetness

Ingredients

  • 1kg of beetroots with tops, scrubbed, tops left aside

  • 4 cloves of garlic 

  • Small handful of thyme sprigs

  • Rapeseed oil

  • 1 litre of vegetable stock

  • Sea salt and black pepper

  • Crème fraiche to serve

  • For the pesto:

  • Reserved beet tops, leaves only

  • Small handful of parsley, chopped

  • 1 fat clove of garlic, chopped

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • 50g walnuts

  • Rapeseed oil

Method

  1. To make the pesto, blitz all of the ingredients together in a food processor until you have a smooth paste, adding enough rapeseed oil to loosen it into the right consistency. Transfer to a sterilised jar and place in the fridge.

  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  3. Place your beetroots in a roasting tin along with the garlic cloves (unpeeled) and sprigs of thyme. Generously drizzle over some rapeseed oil until everything is well covered and season with sea salt and black pepper. Pour in a little water, enough to reach the first knuckle of your little finger. Roast in the oven for around 40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through the cooking. A knife should easily slide through the beetroot when cooked.

  4. Take out of the oven and leave to cool, just enough to handle. Slip the beetroot out of their skins with your fingers and top and tail them with a sharp knife and roughly chop them up.

  5. Place in a large saucepan. Squeeze the soft garlic flesh out of their skins into the saucepan along with the beetroots. Strain the liquor from the roasting tray through a sieve into the pot as well.

  6. Heat your stock up in a separate pan. Pour in half of the stock on top of the beetroot and then blitz everything with a good stick blender. Add more stock until you get the right consistency. You may need need to use all of the stock. Check the soup for seasoning and then serve in bowls with a dollop of crème fraiche and the pesto drizzled generously over.

Beetroot salad with grapefruit and pecorino

recipe by:Currabinny Cooks

This is a quick to make salad that combines three delicious and distinct flavours and textures. You have the crunch earthiness of the raw, thinly sliced beetroots, the juicy bitterness of grapefruit and the salty pecorino

Beetroot salad with grapefruit and pecorino

Ingredients

  • 3-4 rainbow and golden beetroots, washed and peeled

  • Juice of one lemon

  • Sea salt and black pepper

  • 1 ruby grapefruit, peeled and segmented 

  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tsp of runny honey

  • 60g pecorino, shaved

  • 80g rocket, washed

Method

  1. Cut the beets in halve and then slice as thinly as you can. Place the thin slices in a bowl along with the juice of one lemon and a good pinch of seasalt. Stir around so that everything is covered and leave in the fridge to marinate for around 20-30 minutes.

  2. Arrange the grapefruit segments between two serving plates along with the beetroot slices and rocket. Drizzle over a little good quality olive oil and some honey. Lastly shave over the pecorino and serve.

Baby beetroot tarte tatin

recipe by:Currabinny Cooks

Tarte tatins are ultimate comfort food. They are especially good when the weather isn’t as summery as you hoped it would be and you need something of a food hug

Baby beetroot tarte tatin

Total Time

1 hours 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 400g baby beets, scrubbed, topped and cut in half

  • 250g shop bought puff pastry 

  • 160g butter

  • 2 tsp sugar or honey

  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar

  • Rapeseed oil

  • Sea salt and black pepper 

  • Few sprigs of thyme

  • 2 large banana shallots, cut into wedges

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

  2. We use a medium sized, shallow pan when we make our tarte tatins, but you can use a small ovenproof frying pan or specific tarte tatin pan if you have it.

  3. Roll out your pastry and place the pan you are using face down on top and cut around so that you have a round of pastry that fits to your pan exactly. Loosely cover this pastry round and place it carefully in the fridge.

  4. Heat 80g of the butter over medium-high and add the halved baby beets to the pan. Add the sugar or honey and the cider vinegar to the pan and let everything bubble away and caramelise. The baby beets should fit snuggly enough in the pan. Add a few thyme sprigs and stir in before placing, uncovered into the oven for around 35-40 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, add the remaining 80g of butter over a medium-high heat.

  6. Add the shallots to the pan along with a drizzle of rapeseed oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Stirring regularly, cook down the shallot until it starts to become caramelised.

  7. You want the shallot to be well browned and caramelised before taking off the heat and setting aside.

  8. Take the baby beets out of the oven and using some tongs, arrange the beetroot halves so that their cut side is facing up, this is so that the round size will be facing outward in the finished tart. Place the shallot on top of the beets along with a drizzle of the pesto if you wish.

  9. Take your pastry out of the fridge and cover the pan with it, tucking in the sides so everything is sealed. Place back in the oven for a further 20 minutes until the pastry is well puffed up and golden brown.

  10. Take out of the oven and place a plate on top, flipping it over so that the tart lands upside down with the beetroots facing upwards. Leave to cool a little before serving.

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