As usual, British autumns has arrived right on time so let’s enjoy some root vegetables. After having tasted most varieties, the roasted beetroot has got to be one of my favourite vegan recipes! Its rich earthy flavour is perfect for the season to accompany those heavy pie dishes.
The peak season for beetroot is right now, starting in July and finishing late October. Fortunately, you can get beetroot all year round in the supermarkets. Oven roasted beetroot is especially divine, as the roasting process caramelises the vegetable and makes it super sweet. Additionally, beetroot is a very versatile vegetable that can accompany many different types of protein. Its juice can be used for marinating fish or colouring pasta!
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health benefits of beetroot
Beetroots are very rich in iron and calcium as well as vitamin A and C. Studies also show that beetroot contains high levels of antioxidants. The latter is beneficial for the human body’s blood circulation as well as in helping reduce blood pressure, strengthening the immune system and helping to prevent serious diseases. It is also good for digestion, which makes it the perfect side dish or red meat.
tricks to peeling beetroots
If you have cooked with beetroots before you are probably aware of the main challenge they present, which is peeling. Somehow, the vast amount of bright red juice seems to go everywhere. By peeling the beetroots in a big bowl of water will help avoid the juices getting all over the place. In any case, I recommend you to roll up your sleeves and wear an apron, as it can still get a little messy. If your hands get stained from the beetroot juice you can rub them with lemon juice, which will make the colour come off more easily. If you boil the beetroots first, they will also be much easier to peel. Leave the tip of the root on and you will be able slip the skin right off after boiling.
Of course, cooking and eating beetroot with skin on provides extra roughage for the digestive system. Just make sure you give them a good scrub.
I find that the best way to bring out that beautiful earthy, but still sweet, flavour is to roast the beetroots. The slow caramelisation in the oven will bring out that sweetness in the roasted beetroot. If you are a little pressed for time you can pre-boil the beetroots quickly and then cut them up. Next, if your oven has a grill function put it on in the last five minutes to give them a nice bit of charring.
If you want to give some variation to the dish, you can mix up the beetroot chunks with bits of carrot, parsnip or jerusalem artichokes. All of these roots have sweet, earthy flavour notes that complement each other nicely. Also, I find the colour combination of them all especially appetising. Why don’t you give these a try as well?
Ideas with beetroot
Beetroot is a versatile vegetable that tastes good in many forms, not just roasted. You can also parboil the vegetable, cut it up into chunks as you would for this recipe, and then use the bits in a salad. Just remember to allow them to cool down first. Otherwise, your salad will go soggy. Mixed with rocket salad, green beans and walnuts, you have a lovely vegan autumn salad in almost no time. Throw in some goat cheese, and now you’ll have a lovely vegetarian meal. For meat-lovers, this goes perfectly with a piece of grilled chicken breast.
A slightly less healthy option is to transform the beetroot into crisps. Slice up the raw beetroot very thinly, preferably on a mandolin if you have one. Fry the slices a few at the time in hot sunflower seed oil or any other neutral cooking oil. Voilà, you have your own homemade crisps that taste amazing.
Since you got out the mandolin anyway, you might as well slice a few more. These slices can be pickled in vinegar, sugar, water and a little salt. The addition of fennel or mustard seeds are optional. Leave them to pickle for at least a few hours and you have a lovely little fresh side dish to cut through heave meals such roasted pork, for instance. If you put the mixture and the pickled beetroots in a jar, they will easily keep on the fridge for a couple of weeks, although that fresh crunchiness will disappear quickly.
Beef, game, chicken, pork, fish. Whichever protein you decide to serve the roasted beetroot with, make sure that you season it well so the saltiness can balance the sweetness. Use plenty of salt and pepper and as always some fresh herbs if you can. Thyme goes particularly well with beetroot, and tolerates the roasting process in the oven. You can further enhance the flavour by adding some finely chopped herbs when serving. Watercress or chervil is also delicious with beetroot, especially if you serve it as a side for fish.
the green bits
By the way, if you can get fresh beetroots with the tops still on, don’t throw the tops away. You can use the small leaves in a salad and the bigger leaves you can cook in the same way as you would cook spinach. These green leaves are just as rich on vitamins and nutrition as the beetroots themselves and shouldn’t be wasted.
Author: Michelle Minnaar
- 6 beetroots
- 30ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC/gas mark 5.
- Scrub the beetroot thoroughly to remove any dirt, then top and tail them.
- Cut them in 1cm (½ in) slices and toss them in oil.
- Place them in a roasting tin and cook in the oven for 25-30mins or until they are tender and a little bit charred on the edges.
- Season to taste and serve hot or cold.
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Sodium 98 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
Sugars 10.2 g
Protein 2.1 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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A special thanks to Kelly Reeve for assisting with the recipe shoot.