Beet that: Mark Hix sings the praises of beetroot

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

It's healthy, versatile and delicious – and finally gaining the popularity it deserves

Beetroot is a remarkable, healthy and delicious vegetable that is fast becoming ubiquitous at the nation's most fashionable dinner tables – the days when it was simply pickled and served from a jar with salad cream have long since disappeared.

And it's not just about red beetroots either; if you frequent farmers' markets you will have noticed lots of different coloured and shaped varieties which can be turned into really interesting-looking dishes. I've often enjoyed seeing the puzzled looks on my guests' faces whenI serve them white and yellow beets at a dinner party.

One thing to bear in mind with beetroot is that they do take quite a long time to cook – a good hour or more to boil, and far longer if you decide to wrap them in foil and bake them in the oven.

Yellow or candy beetroot crisps

Serves 4-6

I find that yellow, white and candy beets make much better beetroot crisps than the red ones – I'm not quite sure why, but I think it's because the red ones contain more water.

250-300g yellow, white or candy beets, peeled
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
Salt

Heat about 8cm of vegetable or corn oil to 180C in a deep-fat fryer or heavy-based saucepan. Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the beetroots as thinly as possible. Fry the slices in the hot fat a few at a time, stirring to ensure that they don't stick together. They will take a while to colour (do not over-colour them) and may appear soft while they are still in the fat. Once they have been drained they will dry out and crisp up. Sprinkle with salt and leave them to dry somewhere warm.

Sweet beetroot tart

Serves 4

This may sound like a bit of a wacky idea, but it is not only delicious, but gloriously pretty as well.

250-300g puff pastry, rolled to about 2mm thick and left to rest for at least an hour
6 or so medium-sized red beetroots, cooked, peeled and thinly sliced
30g butter, melted
Icing sugar
Crème fraîche, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C /gas mark 6. Cut the puff pastry into four 12cm discs and prick all over with a fork. Fold the trimmings over, wrap in clingfilm and keep for another recipe.

Put the discs on to a baking tray lined with siliconised or greaseproof paper, or re-useable Teflon sheets like Bake-O-Glide. Lay the beetroot slices around the pastry discs, overlapping them and tucking the last slice under the first to form an even pattern.

Brush the beetroot with butter and dust generously with the sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the beetroot begins to caramelise, scattering more sugar and brushing more butter on halfway through cooking.

Serve with the crème fraîche spooned in the centre of the tarts.

Whipped beets with goat's curd and toasted walnuts

Serves 4-6

This is a slight variation on a Mediterranean houmous or baba ganoush. It makes a great dinner-party starter or component in a sharing mezze or buffet.

500g raw medium-sized red beetroots
4tbsp olive or rapeseed oil plus a little extra for drizzling
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Salt and pepper

To serve

80g goat's curd
16-20 good-quality walnuts, lightly toasted
A few sprigs of coriander
Flatbread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4.

Put the beetroots in a roasting tray, cover with tin foil and bake in the oven for about 1 hours or until tender when the point of a knife is inserted into the beetroot. Remove the foil and leave to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, gently rub the skins off – it is best to use rubber gloves for this if you wish to avoid staining your hands. Roughly chop the beetroots and blend with the vinegar and the rapeseed oil in a food processor or liquidiser until smooth. Season to taste, then spoon on to serving plates and spread with the back of a spoon. Spoon three blobs of goat's curd on top and scatter the walnuts over. Drizzle with a little more oil, and finish it off with a scattering of coriander leaves.

Serve with warm flatbread.

Beetroot and hare (or pigeon) salad

Serves 4

This makes good use of the tender fillets from the saddle of the hare (you can keep the rest, which can be used for braising or slow cooking). If you can't get hold of hare, you could use pigeon or rabbit instead.

2 fillets from the saddle of a hare
A little vegetable or corn oil for frying
2 medium-sized yellow or candy beets, cooked and peeled
2 medium red beets, cooked and peeled
A couple of handfuls of tasty small salad leaves, washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

2tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar, such as cabernet sauvignon
6-7tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1tsp Dijon or Tewksbury mustard

Heat a heavy frying pan, season the hare fillets and cook on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, keeping them medium rare. Leave to rest on a plate for a couple of minutes. Whisk all of the ingredients together for the dressing and season. Cut the beetroots into wedges and arrange on serving plates with the leaves. Cut the hare into thin slices and arrange in among the leaves, then season and spoon the dressing over.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?