What springs to mind when thinking of Beetroot or Beets if you are American. Generally in the UK, we only eat the the bulbous part of the beetroot plant though there is no reason not to cook the leaves, though I have never done so. Their relative is Swiss chard and if you should wish to cook the leaves find a recipe for Swiss Chard.
Growing up, Beetroot, was something that I avoided as much as I could. Although both my mother and her sister ( my favourite Aunt, Auntie Brenda) were good cooks in the fashion of basic home cooks, whose role in life was to make sure that the children were never hungry. But Beetroot ! It was only ever served cold, pickled in vinegar with its dark red glow smothering the lettuce leaves and salad on which it was always served. And to make matters worse, salad was very boring, limp lettuce, a few tomatoes and cucumber and of course BEETROOT! My parents, along with half or more than half of the population grew their own vegetables. There were no Freezers, only bottling or salting to preserve what they grew throughout the winter months. Potatoes were dug and kept in the dark, so they wouldn’t sprout or grow green. Runner beans were cut and nestled in salt, and I don’t remember anything about peas, except shelling them on the doorstep and they were always hard. Marrow was never preserved, as it would go mushy but I remember carrots being kept in the ground. Onions must have been kept in the dark, so they wouldn’t sprout or go soggy, but other vegetables such as Brussels sprouts were harvested as needed along with cabbages. But Beetroot, it was only ever preserved in Vinegar and as such that was the way it would be bought, in glass jars and pickled.
Consequently, I didn’t eat Beetroot until about 10/15 years ago. There it was in the supermarket in vacuum packed bags, cooked and ready to rock and roll. Hallelujah! And suddenly recipes abounded for beetroot. One of my favourites is very simply, beetroot cut into chunks and sautéed in butter and dressed with Balsamic vinegar. Beetroot Risotto is another favourite, just think of this wonderful colour, hot pink ! And what about Beetroot and horseradish cold soup, the most amazing Peptobismol pink! Ummm yes ! So going from avoiding Beetroot like the plaque, I am now a fan. ( I am still to be converted to Beet greens though, I will try hard whilst in France in January).
I made the other day, a fish stew. I love rummaging in my Fish freezer, deciding what has to be used, is it going to be Fish Pie, Fish Curry, hang on Fish stew with Beetroot ! YES !! And Yes again ! The colour is amazing as are the flavours !
- As this is a stew, it can be adapted to suit whatever you have.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 tsp each of coriander seeds and fennel seeds
- 3 celery sticks diced
- 1-2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 beetroot ( less if that is all in a packet)
- At least 4 cloves of garlic smushed
- An onion chopped
- Spring onions sliced for garnish
- 800 mls of either fish or vegetable stock, ( cube or powder will do )
- 2 oranges, zested and juiced
- 600 grams assorted seafood cut into chunks
- 1 can of either baby tomatoes or chopped tomatoes.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat the oil and add the seeds, until they sizzle, add the celery, the garlic, the carrots and the chopped onion. Add the stock, the tomatoes, the zest and the juice along with the chopped beetroot and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the fish, making sure that it is all covered by the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Taste and season with Salt and Pepper. Sprinkle the chopped spring onions on top.
- Serve with crusty bread,, pasta , rice or the starch of your choice.