Beetroot can be a little intimidating. But its natural sweetness makes it an interesting ingredient for all kinds of dishes, from salads to soups and veggie burgers. Get your gloves ready and start cooking!
Where a recipe calls for cooked beetroot, you can either roast or boil them – preferably in their skins, either way. Roast in a nest of foil to retain steam – or boil in plenty of water until the beetroots are tender right through (to the tip of a knife). If you need raw beetroot, put on rubber gloves before peeling carefully. Grate or chop the beetroot – it’s perfectly fine to eat raw and makes a pleasingly pink version of ‘remoulade’ (or coleslaw).
Classic Jewish Beetroot Soup
Described by Elizabeth David as “ambrosial”, a plain and simple beetroot soup is an ancient and traditional dish. Sometimes called ‘Borscht’, it’s served chilled (but fine served hot). She describes how to make it in ‘Summer Cooking’. Her recipe is typically elegant and concise:
˝Peel and chop half a kilo of cooked beetroots. Put this into three pints of salted water, with the addition of a little vinegar. Cook for 20 minutes and put the mixture through a sieve. In a soup tureen beat three whole eggs, pour the beetroot broth over the eggs, stirring all the time, see that the seasoning is right, press the soup once more through a sieve, and put on ice until it is perfectly cold. Serve the soup iced, and for each guest have a bowl or saucer of hot boiled potatoes which have been stirred in a pan with very hot goose fat.˝
This soup may also be served warm. Serve ladles of soup over the boiled potatoes (which can be stirred in salted butter if preferred). You might also wish to garnish the soup with finely sliced spring onions and dollops of seasoned sour cream.
Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese Salad
This simple salad is stylish enough to serve as a dinner‐party starter or a lazy summer lunch in the garden. For two people, you will need:
- 3 small beetroot
- 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1tsp sugar
- 1 round goat’s cheese
- Mixed salad leaves – e.g. rocket and watercress
- Handful walnuts (optional)
First, prepare the beetroot. Boil them in plenty of water, skin‐on, until they are just tender. Cool until you can handle them, then put on gloves and remove the skins. Slice into 0.5cm rounds. Heat up a frying pan with a little olive oil. Put in the beetroot and warm through on a low heat.
While the beetroot is cooking, put the slices of goat’s cheese onto a tray and pop it under the grill to get a golden tinge on the top. Prepare two plates with salad leaves.
Return to the frying pan and turn up the heat. Splash in the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle over the sugar, then stir the beetroot quickly to give it a glaze. If you are using the walnuts, add them to the pan and stir in the glaze. Switch off the heat.
Scatter the beetroot and walnuts over the salad leaves, and use a spatula to carefully slide the goat’s cheese slices off the tray and onto the salads. Drizzle the remaining glaze over the plates and serve while still warm.