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Cooking beetroot

Article by: Diana Moutsopoulos  |  Picture by: pomplemousse
Cooking beetroot
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Wondering how to cook beetroot? Fresh beetroot, prepared simply, is delicately sweet and delicious – nothing like the jarred pickled variety that has unjustly tarnished this ruby red root's reputation. Read on for advice on choosing, preparing and cooking beetroot.

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Choosing beetroot

Look for firm beetroot that haven't gone wrinkly or soft, with in-tact skins. If the greens are still attached, all the better, as you can use them in an array of dishes. They make a fantastic substitute for chard or spinach in your favourite recipes.

Storing beetroot

With all fresh veg, it's best to use beetroot as soon as possible after purchase. Fresh beetroot can be successfully stored in the fridge, however, for at least week. Be sure to trim the greens first, about 2cm from the base.

Cooking beetroot

There are several ways to enjoy beetroot. We've loads of recipes in our beetroot collection, but read on for the most basic techniques. Note that handling beetroot might cause some staining; you can wear protective gloves to avoid red-hued fingers.

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Raw

Beetroot can be used raw in salads and even juiced with a good juicer. To incorporate raw beetroot into salads simply peel with a potato peeler, and trim both ends. Julienne or grate the beetroot and add to your favourite salad.

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Roasted

Roasting is arguably becoming the cooking method of choice for beetroot, and is a great way to re-introduce beetroot to those who think they don't like it. Roasting requires very little preparation, and the beetroot can be enjoyed as is or left to cool and used in a beetroot salad.

To roast beetroot:

Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Line a baking dish with aluminium foil to save on washing up.

Trim both ends of the beetroot, but do not peel. Place in the prepared baking dish, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil (about 2 teaspoons per 500g of beetroot). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then toss to coat the beetroot evenly.

Place in the oven and roast for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the beetroot is tender. Check by piercing the largest beetroot with a knife; it should cut through the middle without any resistance.

To serve straightaway, allow to cool slightly, then cut the beetroot into wedges. The peel should come off easily. Otherwise, cool to room temperature and refrigerate until using.

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Baked

Baking beetroot is another easy method that produces simply delicious beetroot with minimal preparation and even less washing up!

To bake beetroot:

Preheat the oven to 190 C / Gas 5.

Wash and trim the beetroot, but do not peel.

Cut a piece of aluminium foil large enough to completely wrap your beetroot all into one parcel. Lightly grease the aluminium foil with a bit of butter or oil, then wrap the beetroot into a parcel. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beetroot is tender when pierced with a knife.

To serve, open the parcel (being careful of the steam) and allow the beetroot to cool slightly. Quarter and peel the beetroot and serve as is, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate until using.

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Boiled

Quick and easy, boiled beetroot is especially preferred if you are working your beetroot into a soup or puree.

To boil beetroot:

Wash and trim the beetroot, but do not peel. Place the beetroot in a large saucepan and cover with 2cm of water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until just tender, about 30 to 40 minutes depending on size.

Drain, and allow the beetroot to cool until you are able to handle them. Peel and cut into slices or wedges to serve straightaway, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate until using.

Quick-boil method
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can peel and slice the beetroot before boiling. This ensures even cooking and reduces the boiling time greatly.

Trim and peel the beetroot. Cut into slices and place in a saucepan. Cover with water by about 2cm. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the beetroot are easily pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes; drain.

Beetroot ideas

Salads
Cooked beetroot can be added to almost any basic green salad with great results, but beetroot really shines when it takes centre stage. Try making a salad with roasted beetroot (either warm, room temperature or cool from the fridge) and any of these favourite additions: chopped apples, feta, soft goat cheese, toasted nuts, segmented oranges. Simply drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Try these recipes for some inspiration:
Purees
A beetroot puree makes a colourful, healthful and delicious alternative to mashed potatoes. You can, in fact, easily combine boiled beetroot with boiled potatoes, and mash with some butter, salt and pepper to great effect.
Soups
The star of all beetroot soups is borscht, of Eastern European and Russian fame. Delicious both chilled and hot, beetroot soup makes a fantastic starter.
Cakes
For the more adventurous, beetroot makes a discreet appearance in chocolate cakes, lending moisture and nutrition. What's better is that the kids will never know!
Don't forget the greens
Fresh beetroot greens offer a treasure trove of opportunities. The greens will work a treat in almost any recipe that calls for spinach or chard. Or simply chop the greens and sauté in olive oil with some garlic until tender for a fab side dish. Try these recipes for more ideas:
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Beetroot recipes

For loads more ways to cook beetroot, visit our Beetroot recipe collection!
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