It’s always a treat to get beetroot in our food pickups. It’s such a versatile vegetable, although pink soup can sometimes get a few suspicious looks!
Over the past few weeks we’ve been cooking with beetroot quite a bit. First there was an experimental salad with beetroot, clementines, brazil nuts and green veg like pak choi and spinach, that went down really well at our Wednesday meal – even with the kids. We’ve made beetroot borani for Cambridge Carbon Footprint’s birthday party, beetroot and dill burgers for Holy Schnitzels and beetroot hummus for our first lunch at Wesley – now forever known by certain guests as ‘that thing you put on toast that matches Alex’s hair’.
Once again, beetroot was the star ingredient at last Saturday’s lunch.
We’re lucky enough to work with Paul and Doreen at Waterland Organics and their community farm project, Cambridge Crop Share. They’ve generously supported FoodCycle for a while now, but this year introduced a great new initiative where subscribers to their weekly organic veg box scheme can donate any boxes they don’t need (for example, when they are on holiday) – and we’re the lucky recipients! So far, we’ve had beautiful purple kohlrabi, tender young broad beans, edible flowers and punnets filled with juicy red and blackcurrants. It’s always top quality veg, but this week’s haul of beetroot (leaves and all) was in a whole other league.
How could you look at that and not be inspired?
We’d also picked up some carrots and Bramleys from Radmore Farm Shop, so we decided to combine them with a bit of ginger and transform the beetroots into a vibrant, earthy soup. Soup always goes down a treat with our guests – in fact, so much so that we always get a few complaints when we make a starter that isn’t soup!
It’s really simple, too – just chop the carrots and beetroots into chunks (no need to peel them) and roast at 190 for about 20 minutes, so they’re lovely and sweet. Gently fry some onion and grated ginger, chuck in the roasted veggies with some chopped bramley apple (Granny Smiths work well too) and some stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the veggies are soft and blend until smooth.
All that left us with the question of the leaves, of course. They were so lovely and vibrant with the green and purple, we couldn’t bear to stick them in the compost. After a quick search online we combined and adapted a couple of recipes, cooking up some simple flatbreads with a topping of shredded leaves, sautéed with some onion and garlic, and then stirring through some toasted fennel seeds and pine nuts and sprinkling over some crumbled feta. Big thanks here to Marina, who makes the best flatbreads we’ve ever tasted. So good in fact, that we put the flatbreads on the tables, went to get the soup, and by the time we came back the flatbreads had all disappeared! Fantastic way to use up all of those lovely beetroot. No beetroot left behind!
We’ve never been asked so many times for a recipe as we have with the beetroot hummus, so we thought we’d feature it here as recipe of the month.
- 300g pack of cooked beetroot, or 3 medium beetroot, peeled and roasted (not boiled, they lose their colour)
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas (we often leave these out if we don’t have any – tastes just as good, and keeps the colour vibrant)
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 1 generous handful of dill, finely chopped
- juice of 1/2 a lemon (add more if needed)
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil (add more if necessary, substitute another oil if you don’t have any, although this one is best)
- 1 tbsp creamed horesradish (optional, although we love it and it even converted confirmed horseradish-hater Twig)
- 1/2 tsp salt
Stick all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Simple! Adjust seasoning and spread on some lovely toasted surplus bread. Yum. What’s your favourite beetroot recipe?