Glossary

Beetroot

Beetroot

Pronounce it: beat-root

A favourite in 1970's British salads (served cooked and pickled in vinegar), beetroot is a root vegetable with dark, purple skin and pink/purple flesh. It has also enjoyed something of a deserved comeback in recent years, its earthy, rich and sweet flavour and vibrant colour lends itself to a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes.

Beetroot is a close relative of spinach and chard and has an earthy flavour and a good nutritional content - it's also reckoned to be a good detoxifier.

Availability

July through to January, tapering off during February and March. You can try growing in your garden or allotment - it's generally trouble-free. Read more about growing beetroot at Garden Action.

Choose the best

Raw beetroot should have their stalks (fresh, not wilting) and roots (nice and firm) intact.

Prepare it

To cook whole, wash but don't peel, then cut the stalks to 2.5cm and leave the root at the bottom; if either are trimmed too much, the beetroot's colour will bleed. Then, bake in a low oven, either wrapped in foil or in a little water in a lidded casserole dish. It should be ready in 2-3 hours. For boiling, prepare it in the same way, then simmer for around an hour.

Store it

Fresh, they'll keep for several weeks in a cool, dark place.

Cook it

Roast, chop and dress with walnut oil and chives. Bake in olive oil and cumin seeds, then dot with feta and bake again. Boil the beetroots for a few minutes, drain and serve with olive oil or butter. Juice raw beetroot, and mix half and half with carrot juice for a vitamin-rich drink.