The humble beetroot is known to most of us from its pickled version in a jar with the only versatility being whether it is ‘baby’, sliced or crinkle cut. A staple of my childhood as an accompaniment to the ubiquitous plate of chips…and nothing wrong with that. However, it is slowly emerging from the shadows to stake a rightful place as a truly first-class food revered by most world cultures. You will find recipes that showcase beetroot in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and elsewhere.
In Western cultures beetroot is becoming recognised as a ‘super food’, being high in folate and a good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. It deserves this recognition as a home-grown and relatively inexpensive ingredient in Scotland, and is in season now.
Beetroot can be eaten raw (leaves and grated root), boiled or roasted. The fresh beet leaves can be used in a salad or fried like chard. Beetroot can be used in savoury or sweet dishes. For example, beetroot brownies are visually stunning, taste delicious and have half the fat content of regular brownies. I may share this recipe in a future blog but for now will focus on the humble pickled beetroot, and beetroot hummus.
Small/medium sized beetroots (as many as you want to pickle). I used a mixture of traditional red beetroot and the lesser known golden beetroot (both from Tayport Community Garden)
Vinegar (usually malt vinegar but I used cider vinegar for a mellower taste as I did not add sugar)
There is no need to add anything else but if you want to be fancy you can add black peppers, bay leaves or cloves
- Top and tail the beetroots but leave the skin on.
- Cover with water in a pan and boil for about 30 mins until tender. I cook them in a pressure cooker for 8 mins.
- Rinse in cold water and rub off skins with your fingers. You may want to wear kitchen gloves otherwise the red dye on your fingers may alarm people.
- If small beetroots they can remain whole, if larger then slice them thinly.
- Pack fairly tightly into sterilised jars and pour vinegar over the beetroot until completely covered.
That is all there is to it! What you will have are jars of local, tasty and nutritious beetroot at a fraction of the price you would pay at the shops. Enjoy with chips, or anything really.
This is a beetroot twist to a recipe for hummus in Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen. The red beetroot gives the hummus a dramatic colour and an earthy taste.
1 can of chickpeas drained (or equivalent of dried chickpeas soaked and cooked)
1 cooked beetroot cut into small chunks
Garlic clove crushed
Juice from 1 lemon
I teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
Half a teaspoon dried cumin
Half a teaspoon salt
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste. You may need to add a little more lemon juice or cold water if too thick. Simple as that as long as you have a food processor.
Put the hummus into a bowl and add to your favourite flatbread, oatcakes, crackers or toast.