Working in this field for a number of years, you tend to see trends in people’s habits around vegetables and in particular what they like and dislike. One of our top dislikes for customers is beetroot, and honestly we understand why; it’s big, cumbersome, seemingly stains anything it comes in contact with. To be completely honest we have struggled with it at times; every week bringing home fresh beet laying next to last week’s in the cupboard.
Over time though, through hatred of waste and the abundance of Kent Beetroot we begun to do something about it, and somewhere along the way we fell in love with this wonderful vegetable. We also learned that the tops of beetroot are wonderful as well so we try to put the entire beet in your boxes if possible. Don’t throw these away! Treated like other greens they’re full of flavour.
So I’ve decided to try and write our declaration in defence of beetroot. What it is, how and why to cook it.
The foundation of our belief in the humble beetroot is its impressive nutritional qualities. They’re bloody good for you; but that’s not the entire story, ultimately they provide a massive vitamin and mineral profile in such a small amount of calories.
100 Gram serving of beetroot is about 44 calories, but boasts almost a perfect range of vitamins and minerals, everything your body needs to function optimally. A good source of fibre, vitamin B9, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
Studies have linked regular ingestion of beetroot to lower blood pressure, which can help reduce your chances of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes, some of the leading causes of death worldwide.
These benefits are more than likely linked to the presence of inorganic nitrates in beets. Nitrates cause, in the short term up to 6 hours, blood vessels to dilate and lower blood pressure. It’s therefore encouraged to have regular ingestion of beets! All the more reason to take that big bunch in your boxes off your dislike list!
For those active amongst you, this is incredibly useful for sports performance. It improves oxygen uptake and time taken to complete exhaustion. For best results consume beets or beet juice 2-3 hours before competition.
There is also a bit of buzz around beetroot having anti inflammatory effects. However studies on this are in primary stages and haven’t been confirmed in use of humans, but the data currently circling looks positive. This may help with chronic conditions and diseases.
How to cook and enjoy:
One of the huge benefits of beets is how they taste if cooked well, the natural sweetness is incredible considering the low calories that they have.
How can we bring out those natural sugars with minimal effort? Roasting is the answer.
Place some washed (skins left on) beets on a roasting tray. Pour 5mm of water in the bottom of the tray, enough to create steam in the oven but not to boil the beets. Lay a piece of baking paper over the top then wrap tightly with foil and roast for an hour. Take out and check they’re cooked, a knife should glide through with no resistance.
If you smell the sugars caramelising, then you may have to add more water during the cooking time. This will stop the beets burning.
Pull out the oven when soft and allow to cool, then peel the skins (Rubbing with a paper towel whilst still warm is the easiest but comes with a heavy disclaimer…. Kent Veg Box holds no responsibility for hot beet related injuries) . They’re ready to eat from this point, or combine with salad or some of the below recipes
We have loads of our favourite Beet recipes on our Pinterest board. Click the beet pic above.
Complete the above process and once cool grate the beets using the course setting on your grater. Combine with your yoghurt (preferably the wonderful Geek yoghurt we stock from Plurenden Dairy), some mint, tarragon, a dash of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar.
Cover and chill for a few hours to let flavours combine. Goes well with chicken and rice, or fish are even as a starter with warm pitta slices.
Prepare the beets with the above roasting method. Once cooled and skins (safely) removed, cut into halves (or quarters if you got some big boys! Looking at bitesized chunks)
Grate the zest of a lime and put to the side. Cut the lime into wedges, and squeeze over the beets as well as a drizzle of olive oil.
In another bowl whisk together some yoghurt, the lime zest and minced garlic (the amount is up to your taste, if it’s us then it’s normally an entire bulb. We don’t judge, garlic is heavenly.)
Pour this dressing over the beets, and top with dill if you have some and the best salt you’ve got (Maldon is a great finishing salt for this)
Beet tops are often neglected, but they taste very similar to Kale and if you treat them just like Kale you won’t go too far wrong. If you’re still not sure then follow this recipe to make sure your waste from your box is minimal!
Blanche your beets for two minutes in a big pot of boiling water, that’s salted to taste like the sea. Throw straight from the pot into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cold, run a knife through them coarsely.
Put a frying pan on low and start to fry some chopped onions, chilli and garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Once your kitchen smells wonderful, that’s when you know to throw in the greens. Add a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and cook on high for a couple of minutes.
Take off the heat and add some lemon juice to serve (don’t do this whilst cooking as lemon juice can become bitter)
Beetroots also can form a base for some of your favourite treats, the sweetness previously spoken about adds wonderful texture to brownies and cakes, click the photo below for our favourite beetroot brownie recipe!
So there you go – we hope you’ve been convinced of the wonders of Beetroot. Batch cook some early in the week and add to salads, or add to brownies so you can kid yourself you’re still being healthy.