Beetroot is really easy to grow. No matter how new you are to veg growing, it’s a sure thing. But then what do you do with all those beets?
My personal favourite is roasted beetroot and goat cheese salad, but as the autumn nights start to draw in, here are two easy peasy ways to get creative with your beetroot glut.
Spiced sweet and sour pickled beetroot
Thank you to my neighbour, Alison, for putting me on to this one. This light pickle is sweet and rich, and is the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of foods (fish, cold meats, cheeses, salad …).
1 kg raw beetroot
200g caster sugar
300mL white wine vinegar
200mL cold water
2 star anise
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
Heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Trim the leaves and most of the stalks off the beetroot, leaving a stump of stalk on each.
Wrap each beetroot in tinfoil and place on a baking tray. Roast for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the point of a sharp knife inserts easily into the beet. Leave to cool.
Peel the beets (and get very stained hands), and chop them into large bite-size pieces. Pack the chunks into sterilized jars.
For the pickling juice, tip the sugar, white wine vinegar, water, spices and bay leaves into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Then simmer gently, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved, for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar.
Carefully pour the spiced vinegar over the beetroot in the jars (you might have a bit left over). Leave the pickle to cool uncovered, then pour the olive oil over the top and seal the jars.
Officially you are only supposed to keep this in the fridge for up to a month, but mine lasted at least 2 months last year with no problems. And as a bonus, when we’d eaten all the beetroot, I mixed the leftover pickling juice with a little olive oil for a fantastic vinaigrette salad dressing.
Forget carrot cake this autumn, try this instead. You won’t regret it.
500g raw beetroot
100g unsalted butter
200g bar plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
100g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
Cook and chop the beetroot as per the recipe above. Chop the chocolate and butter up roughly and blend with the warm chopped beets in a food processor. The chocolate and butter will melt as you blend.
Beat the sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until thick, pale and foamy. Spoon the beetroot mixture into the bowl (it doesn’t look pretty at this stage, but stay with it!), then use a large metal spoon to fold it in. Try to keep as much air in the mixture as you can.
Gently fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder next, until you have a smooth batter. Pour the mixture into a pre-lined 20cm x 30cm tray bake or roasting tin and bake for 25 minutes or until it has risen all over with a small quiver under the centre of the crust when you shake the pan.
Cool in the tin, then cut into squares.
Let me know what you think, and I’d love to know your favourite beetroot recipes too. I’m sure I’ll have another glut to deal with next year.