So, last week I was on a mission to discover more and more about Mr.Beetroot. I said to myself I am dedicating this week for beetroot and I did not regret any time spent on that.
I LOVE beetroot but to be quite honest, I never ate beetroot as a child. I used to eat similar roots but they would always be the traditional Egyptian pickled ones, usually served as a side dish.
When I moved to Australia years ago and noticed the presence of beetroots in burgers, I thought it was the weeeirdest thing ever!! but seeing this vegetable almost all year round in grocery stores made me curious and want to try it. The first thing I tried though, was the ones sold diced in cans, I didn’t like that AT ALL, I thought it tasted so artificial! but then I decided to give it another chance, so I bought some fresh ones and roasted them at home … Ah! now we’r talkin’ … what a difference?!! it’s like eating a totally different vegetable! and since then I made good friends with beetroot.
I usually roast beetroot, it’s pretty effortless .. I just wrap it in aluminium foil and leave it in the oven for an hour or two. I then marinate it with some sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. done!
While experimenting last week in the kitchen trying to find more ways to eat beet root, I came up with a great combination of flavours, based on two things 1.balancing flavours (Duh! common sense!)and (please don’t laugh) 2. matching colours .. well, I might be wrong, but I believe that when the colours of ingredients match, in most cases, flavours do too.
So, Inspired by what ever ingredients I had available in the kitchen from nuts, grains and others (I always keep a wide variety of ingredients handy for such moods), I came up with this deee-licious dish!!
Beet root has a special earthy charm and distinctive flavour, did you know it belongs to the spinach family? because I didn’t, you will notice this when you look at its leaves (which are also edible by the way). In this recipe, I’ve used every part of the vegetable for the first time, didn’t want any of this goodness to go to waste. Thought I’d treat the stems and leaves as if they were spinach,(which I usually wilt on medium heat with chopped onions and then add lemon juice and season) I have to say, it worked really well!
Besides the deliciousness and vibrant colour of this vegetable, I can’t resist telling you briefly how good it is for your body. Beetroots have been used as medicine to cure diseases, especially liver related ones, apparently they help stimulate the cleansing process in the liver… and who wouldn’t like a natural and yummy liver detox? I say ditch the detox tablet and have some BEETS!!
Beetroots are :
- rich in vitamins and minerals such as Iron, calcium, vitamin A and C, and folic acid.
- good source of fibre, increase the antioxidant enzymes in the body eliminating abnormal cells.
- good source of ‘glutamine’ which is an essential amino acid for maintaining healthy intestines.
- help with constipation, lower cholesterol levels and reduce high blood pressure, so great for your heart.
- 2 large or 4 small red beetroot, stems and leaves cut off, young ones only chopped coarsely as in picture and set aside. Discard big stems and leaves.
- foil paper and baking paper
- 1 tablespoon caramelized balsamic vinegar.
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- 2 tablespoons of good quality apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 4 cups 'cooked' black rice
- 2 tablespoons of light olive oil
- 2 medium red onions, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, extra to taste
- juice of half a medium lemon
- 2 small pears, cored and cut into wedges
- 1 table spoon of maple syrup
- a handful of beetroot fresh green leaves cut very thinly
- 200 grams goat's fetta cheese crumbed, reserve some in a small bowl for topping up
- 1/4 cup toasted and crushed raw pistachios, extra for topping up
- preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/400 F
- wear rubber gloves if possible before preparing beets to avoid staining your hands.
- cut the hairy beards off beetroots and remove the skin using a vegetable peeler.
- cut each beetroot in half, then place the flat part of each half on the chopping board, cut into 3 wedges (about 2 cm thick or to your preference, but I like mine quite chunky).
- double wrap beetroot, first with baking paper then wrap with a layer of aluminium foil, seal well to avoid any juice escaping while roasting.
- put aluminium foil parcel on an oven tray and leave to roast for 1 hour or until a skewer can easily be inserted into the flesh. Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients.
- when roasted, mix 'beetroot marinate' ingredients together and add them to roasted beetroot in a bowl. combine well and leave aside for 5 mins.
- while beetroot in oven and rice is cooking, place a frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil,onions and stir until onions soften.
- add crushed garlic and stir until fragrant, then add chopped stems and leaves, stir for 2 mins or until greens begin to wilt.
- add salt and a splash of water, cover over medium heat for 2 more minutes.
- uncover, remove from heat, add lemon juice and adjust the salt to taste, set aside to cool down.
- add maple syrup to pear wedges, toss to coat pears.Roast in hot oven for 10 mins or until caramelized.
- transfer cooled rice to a bowl add the sautéed greens and mix gently with a fork.
- add marinated beetroots and toss to combine.
- transfer rice mixture to a serving plate. Add a couple of roasted pear slices on top.
- garnish with reserved thinly sliced beetroot greens.
- crumble fetta over the plate and sprinkle with toasted pistachios.
- Prepare all salad ingredients while beetroot is roasting in the oven to safe time.