Beetroot. So pink. So healthy. So good in the right hands. And so easy to leave festering at the back of the fridge.
I have been on a quest to find some easy, delicious things to do with beetroot, other than eating whole packs of sweetfire beetroot in one sitting (straight from the pack – classy).
But why even bother, apart from the fact that it turns everything Barbie pink? Well, for a start beetroot is super-healthy. Unlike some so-called superfoods, which are actually fairly ordinary in terms of nutrition, beetroot genuinely is a nutritional powerhouse. First of all, studies have shown that beetroot juice can reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension. Beetroot fibre increases the level of antioxidant enzymes in the body, increases white blood cells and contains betacyanin (the Barbie pink element) which is thought to suppress the development of some cancers. Sporty types like me will also love the fact that research suggests that beetroot juice improves endurance, helping you exercise for up to 16% longer. Then there’s the fibre, vitamins and minerals. I could go on.
But back to business. What to do with it? Well, here are the results of my experiments so far.
TRIUMPH NO. 1: CHOCOLATE BEETROOT BROWNIES
I am ridiculously pleased with these. Lower in fat than regular brownies because of the vegetable content, they are chewy, chocolatey and delicious. They are also rocket fuel if you’re training later on. I forced myself to test this out a couple of times.
Here’s the recipe:
- 150g plain flour (use ground almonds if you want to go gluten-free)
- 250g cooked beetroot (if you buy ready-cooked, drain it first)
- 250g dark chocolate (preferably min. 70% cocoa solids)
- 250g light brown sugar (if you want to use ordinary caster sugar, knock yourself out. It’s really fine)
- 100g butter, plus extra for greasing the tin (I told you it wasn’t much)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Up to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (be brave! I used slightly less but next time I’ll go for the full teaspoon)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees (180 if it’s a fan oven). Grease and line a baking tin. Mine was about 23cm x 26cm – a bit smaller would be fine. I wouldn’t go any bigger.
- Puree the beetroot in a food processor until it’s smooth. This takes a a little while – be patient or you’ll end up with tiny chunks of beetroot in your brownie
- Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
- Add chocolate mixture to the beetroot and pulse a few times. Crack in the eggs, pulse again, and add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and cayenne pepper. Whizz until thoroughly mixed.
- Pour into the baking tin and put in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, but check from 20-25. You want it to be set on top, but if you like it nice and squidgy you don’t want to overdo it. If you stick in a skewer you want it to come out clean-ish.
- Allow to cool completely in the tin.
- When it’s cold, cut into 16 pieces. Do not eat all at once.
TRIUMPH NO. 2: BEETROOT AND GOAT’S CHEESE SALAD
Beetroot makes a fine salad and this one is easy peasy and pretty fabulous. I piled up a plate with steamed green beans, roasted beetroot, goat’s cheese, chopped walnuts and cumin seeds (both toasted in the oven for five minutes) and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. I’m not ashamed to admit I licked the plate.
THE DISASTER – BEETROOT BLOODY MARY
Having read about hipster bars in London serving Beetroot Bloody Marys I thought I’d try my own version with beetroot juice instead of tomato juice. To tone down the beetroot juice I included celery juice and used the usual combo of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and celery salt,
Oh dear. Yeah, it looked pretty, but boy was it horrible, even for a beetroot-lover like me. Too strong, too pungent, too… beetrooty. Even a liberal glug of vodka didn’t help. Just say no, kids.