TONY STAPLES: Go beetroot red with pride when you serve this dish
Nothing '˜beets' freshly cooked beetroot. Tony Staples, executive head chef at the Arora Hotel in Crawley, has a recipe that is several dishes in one...
I’ve always loved beetroot and right now is the season for beautiful baby veg that come in all sorts of colours, not just red.
Whether you grow your own, or buy from the supermarket or farm shop, cooking them at home will give you a taste that is light years away from any shop-bought, prepared product.
Boil the beets whole without peeling as this helps to retain the flavour and bright colour.
There is also a variety of things you can do with the cooking liquid. In the Arora kitchens, we reduce it down to create a sweet glaze to pour over hot cooked beetroot, or blitz the liquid into the veg for a smooth puree – remember to strain and discard the spices before blitzing. You can also use the cooking liquid to make a delicious jewel-coloured dressing (see my chef’s tip at the end of this article).
On our new summer menu, we are currently serving a roast supreme of salmon with hot cooked baby beetroot and a beetroot puree. The combination of colours is so pretty, it is almost a shame to it eat…almost!
Home cooked beetroot
1 kilo of baby beetroot – keep whole and unpeeled
1 litre of water
200ml red wine vinegar
4 sprigs of thyme
5 juniper berries
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
Pinch of coriander seeds
Pinch of whole black peppercorns
Place the beetroot in a large saucepan with all the other ingredients.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20–30 minutes until cooked – test with a sharp knife.
Leave the beetroots to cool in the liquid to retain their bright colour.
Once cooled, lift the beetroots out with a slotted spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.
The beetroot skins should slip off easily by hand. They can now be stored in the fridge for up to a week and used in salads. Or try roasting them: pop into a roasting dish, toss in olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and bake for 5 mins in a preheated oven at 185oC.
Put 2 tablespoons of the cooled, cooking liquid into a screw topped jar with 10 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Add a good pinch of sea salt and a grind of black pepper. Pop on the lid, and give it a good shake.
Use as a dressing for a salad of goat’s cheese and cooked baby beetroots, on a bed of rocket leaves and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
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