Thursday, January 11, 2007

TWO WAYS WITH BEETROOT

We had a bag of beetroots in the box on Friday and it has taken me too long to do something with them. I toyed with a Borscht soup (vibrant with vodka), a roast beetroot salad (too summery), or Beetroot Stroganoff (which I am convinced would work, but worried about the colour).

In the end I just threw them all in the oven at about 200 degrees, skin and all, to roast - maintaining all the colour and vitamins - then split the batch in half. With half of them (4 medium-small beetroots) I made a version of Sophie Grigson's Beetroot Dip, which follows below. It's only been a couple of years since I discovered that beetroot are marvellous, whichever way you eat them.

BEETROOT, PHILLY AND RED LETTUCE ON WALNUT BREAD
The other half I sliced and quickly sauteed in olive oil with a splash of good Balsamic, to eat in an open sandwich of walnut bread, full-fat cream cheese and crunchy, red lettuce (pre-dinner snack). So simple, but surprisingly wonderful.

RAVISHING MIDDLE-EASTERN DIP
4 medium-small beetroot, roasted for an hour, peeled and chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1.5tbsp creme fraiche
Juice of 0.25 lemon
0.5tsp salt
Several twists of pepper

Dry-fry the cumin and coriander seeds until aromatic (be brave - leave in the pan until slightly dark). Crush with a pestle and mortar. Throw the chunks of warm beetroot into a blender or processor with the creme fraiche, spices, lemon juice and seasoning - the result is startlingly puce. Tip into a serving bowl and garnish with chives. Serve at room temperature with breadsticks and crudites... This would also be nice served alongside hummous, falafel, baba ghanoush, and flatbreads.