I wasn’t watching the courgettes because I was too busy picking runner beans that, as predicted, we’re eating every day.
In summer we eat raw beetroot simply grated and dressed with oil and raspberry vinegar or mixed with carrots and a scattering of parsley. I use cooked beetroot to make a hummous-like dish of purpleness by chopping it in the food processor with tannini, lemon juice and a little ground coriander.
To cook beetroot, I usually wash it, wrap it in foil while it’s still wet and put in the oven for a good hour until it’s soft. After it’s cooled a little, the skins can just be rubbed off. In autumn, I chop beetroot into wedges and roast with carrots, onions, garlic cloves and sweet potato, drizzled with a little oil. The only problem is that everything gets tinged with the purple juices of the beetroot, but that’s the way of beetroot.
When the beetroot threaten to grow from golf ball to tennis ball size, I make Beetroot Relish which, to my mind, is a far better way of preserving beetroot than dousing it in vinegar. Until we married, Bill had only eaten beetroot pickled in vinegar and so he was slightly surprised when I made hot beetroot in white sauce, which was the only way I’d eaten it. While he still puts a slice of vinegar sodden beetroot in his cheese sandwich, I agree with Jane, The Shady Baker that it stains everything and runs everywhere and generally makes a sandwich pretty unappealing. I’d rather use this Beetroot Relish, which is also good with pickled herrings, cheese and cold meats.
Beetroot Relish – adapted from Preserves by Pam Corbin
1-2 tablespoons rapeseed (or olive) oil
150ml raspberry vinegar
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
80g tube sundried tomato puree
Cut the roots and tops from the beetroot, scrape off any rough looking bits of skin and then rub the oil over the beetroot and put them into a roasting tin and cover loosely with foil. Cook at 180C for about an hour, maybe longer if your beetroot are big, until they’re cooked through. Leave to cool a little and then chop the beetroot in the food processor; I leave the skins on but you may want to rub them off, particularly if your beetroot is a bit aged.
While your beetroot is cooling, put the sugar, vinegar and onion into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes to cook the onion. Then add the ground coriander, tomato puree and beetroot and bring your mixture back to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes so that the mixture thickens a bit.
Pour the hot relish into sterilised jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids. It’s ready to eat straight away, but best kept in the fridge once opened.