Beetroot - Three delicious vegetables in one with Demonstration Video from Darina Allen
The new seasons beets are just ready to harvest. The beets are swelling everyday but one can eat them from when they are the size of a table tennis ball. We love them served hot as a vegetable when they are young and sweet but we use the stalks and leaves too. The leaves are delicious served fresh in a salad or wilted down like spinach. The stalks and leaves can be served together as in the Beetroot Tops recipe or thestalks can be blanched, refreshed and drained, then tossed in a little extra virgin olive oil and some freshly snipped herbs and serve warm or cold. We have our new season organic beetroot now for sale in our Farm Shop at the Cookery School.
How to cook Beetroot
Leave 5cm (2 inch) of leaf stalks on top and the whole root on the beet. Hold it under a running tap and wash off the mud with the palms of your hands, so that you don't damage the skin; otherwise the beetroot will bleed during cooking. Cover with cold water and add a little salt and sugar. Cover the pot, bring to the boil and simmer on top, or in an oven, for 15-20 minutes (in May/June when they are young) depending on size (they can take 1-2 hours in late Autumn and Winter when they are tough). Beetroot are usually cooked if the skin rubs off easily and if they dent when pressed with a finger. If in doubt test with a skewer or the tip of a knife. Use in chosen recipe.
Hot Beetroot with Cream and Parsley
675g (1 1/2 lbs) beetroot, cooked
15g (1/2oz) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
a sprinkling of sugar
150-175ml (5-6fl ozs) cream
2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped parsley
Peel the freshly cooked beetroot, use rubber gloves for this operation if you are vain! Chop the beetroot flesh into cubes. Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the beetroot toss, add the cream, allow to bubble for a few minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sugar. Taste and add a little lemon juice if necessary. Scatter with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Beetroot Tops (Stalks and Leaves)
Young beetroot tops are full of flavour and are often unnecessarily discarded; but if you grow your own beetroots, remember to cook the stalks as well. When the leaves are tiny they make a really worthwhile addition to the salad bowl, both in terms of nutrition and flavour. This isn’t worth doing unless you have lovely young leaves. When they become old and slightly wilted, feed them to the hens or add them to the compost.
450g (1lb) fresh beetroot tops
salt and freshly ground pepper
butter or olive oil
Keeping them separate,cut the beetroot stalks and leaves into rough 5cm (2in) pieces. First cook the stalks in boiling salted water (1.8 litres/3 pints water to 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt) for 2-4 minutes or until tender. Then add the leaves and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Drain, season and toss in a little butter or olive oil.Serve immediately.
Beet Stalks with Olive Oil and Mint
Prepare and cook the beet stalks as above, drain well. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with freshly chopped spearmint. A simple but truly delicious combination.
In season: May-early June
Here are three different basic methods of cooking beet greens.
900g (2lb) fresh beetroot leaves, with stalks removed (cook stalks separately)
salt, freshly ground pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg
50-110g (2-4oz) butter
Method 1 (Wilted Method)
Wash the prepared beetroot leaves and drain. Melt a scrap of butter in a wide frying pan, toss in as many beetroot leaves as will fit easily, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. As soon as it wilts and becomes tender, strain off all the liquid, increase the heat and add some butter and freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.
Method 2 (Buttered Beet Greens)
Wash the prepared beetroot leaves and drain. Put into a heavy saucepan on a very low heat, season and cover tightly. After a few minutes, stir and replace the lid. As soon as the leaves are cooked, about 5-8 minutes approx., strain off the copious amount of liquid that beetroot releases and press between two plates until almost dry. Chop or puree in a food processor if you like a smooth texture. Increase the heat, add butter, correct the seasoning and add a little freshly grated nutmeg to taste.
Method 3 (Buttered Beet Greens)
Cook the beet greens uncovered in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until soft, 4-5 minutes approx. Drain and press out all the water. Continue as in method 2. Method 3 produces fresher coloured leaves.
Beet Greens with Cream
Cook the beet greens by method 2 or 3, drain verywell. Add 225-340ml (8-12fl oz) cream to the beetroot and bring to the boil, stir well and thicken with a little roux if desired, otherwise stir over the heat until the beetroot has absorbed most of the cream. Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Creamed beet greens maybe cooked ahead of time and reheated.
PoachedEggs with Beet Greens
A classic dish and one of the most delicious combinations.
Serve freshly poached free-range organic eggs on top of creamed beet greens - one of our favourite lunch or supper dishes.