Sunday, 22 October 2017

Beetroot ~ raw in salad with ginger, orange and mint ~ and cooked by itself

A reminder about the nutritional value of beetroot prompted me to think back about a recipe for a salad that I hadn't made for years.  I decided to unearth it and try it again.  It was even tastier than I recollected and I wondered why I'd forgotten about it all those years.  No matter, I have it back in use now!

Before I set out the recipe take a look at the delicious ingredients: grated raw beetroot, chopped orange, chopped crystallised ginger, chopped dates and fresh mint - yum!!!  You'd think that the raw beetroot would be crunchy, but it isn't particularly.  This salad is easy to eat as well as being very tasty. 

Beetroot salad
Main ingredients:
  • Beetroot, raw - 150 grams, which is about half of a medium sized beetroot - peel and grate
  • Orange - about 50 grams, which is half of one - peel and chop coarsely.  Reserve the other half for juice to add in the dressing.
  • Ginger, crystallised - 25 grams - chop finely
  • Dates, dried - three - chop
  • Mint, fresh - one generously sized sprig - refer to the photograph for an approximate quantity - chop finely
  • Orange, about a tablespoon of fresh juice from the other half of the orange used above
  • Salt - about a third of a teaspoon
  • Oil - about half a teaspoon.  I don't know why I add this really, probably completely irrelevant!
Combine these and then pour over the other ingredients.

Toss it all and leave to stand for a bit.  All the ingredients immediately turn various shades of  pink and dark red, so you lose the startling colours shown above, but the taste is so worth it!

We had ours with slices of feta and spinach pastry roll, which was a very good combination.  

If you prefer beetroot cooked, steam the beetroot before grating.  It takes about 45 minutes.  Allow it to cool before combining it with the other ingredients.

When I made this today I made two separate salads exactly the same except that for one of them I used steamed beetroot.  I wanted to find out which I preferred.  The two of us enjoyed both but slightly preferred the raw.  I'm often not that keen on raw vegetables as I find they don't always agree with my digestion, but there was absolutely no problem with this salad. 

Cooking beetroot:
Steamed beetroot has a great texture: not crunchy, but distinctive and very nice.  As stated above, steaming takes about 45 minutes.  The recommendation I've come across is to wash the root and cook it whole, and peel and chop it afterwards.  The reason given is that it 'bleeds' more if cut first.  I've done both, and can't see that it makes all that much difference, and the colour of the cooked root is still dark red.  Whether you do or not it's easy to handle.  Either way you get a lot of red moisture to wipe away, so it's best to wear an apron and to use wiping and drying cloths that you're not going to fuss about afterwards.

The tinned stuff is dismal in comparison: I find it unappealing both in texture and flavour, so if that's all you've had you may be in for a pleasant surprise if you cook your own.   

The most common way that beetroot is served is in a brine which is almost entirely vinegar combined with a lot of sugar.  As I understand it this makes it a pickle.

My mother used to make something of this sort which was good, but in looking for an equivalent recipe I found only those with all that vinegar and sugar, which is how you make the aforementioned brine, and I don't want that, so what I'm after isn't pickled beetroot.   

Beetroot has plenty of its own sugar so why add more?   What I want is to do is enhance its flavour so that it's nice with a meal or in a sandwich.

It's worth experimenting.  To do a consistent set of tests I first tried it with the vinegar but without the sugar.  It was, quite predictably you may say, inedible!  Even when I added sufficient water to equal the amount of vinegar the vinegar was still overwhelming, and taking a mouthful of that sample sent me into a fit of coughing - impossible!  After a few hopeless efforts I found it was much simpler than that: I steam it just like any other vegetable and then add a bare minimum of seasoning as outlined here:

The simple solution I have arrived at is to peel, slice and then steam my medium-sized beetroot in a wire basket steamer over water.  Steaming it when sliced is much quicker than if whole and unpeeled.  The water below still becomes bright red, but perhaps there is less bleeding than if simply boiled directly in water.
Once cooked I added to the water:
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Cider vinegar - 1 teaspoon 
  • Kikommen sauce - 1 teaspoon 
I then give it a good stir, decant it into a medium-sized glass casserole dish, add the cooked sliced beetroot, ensuring that there was enough liquid to just cover it, or thereabouts, place the glass lid on the casserole dish and let it cool before storing it in the fridge.  It keeps fine there for three or four days during which I enjoy beetroot, mint and feta cheese sandwiches!  

Here is a photograph of my effort.  It is decorative!  The colour does continue to leak though, so if I'm using beetroot in a salad sandwich I don't use my customary cloth napkin to wrap it up in.

In its raw state it's such a non-descript vegetable and a complete contrast to its peeled state!  This one came from the supermarket so is devoid of its leaves.  The leaves are also edible, but I haven't seen roots with leaves attached in the shops, so growing ones own would be an advantage.  Those shopping at a farmers market may have more luck.  

Nutritional and health benefits:
Beetroot is a good food in so many ways: it's a good source of fibre, iron, manganese, potassium, vitamin B9, vitamin C, is advantageous to heart and gut health, and much more.  The links below are to articles which give more comprehensive detailsThere are plenty of recipe suggestions included in the first of these two articles:

My other articles about food and recipes can be found here:

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