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.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing