So, this weeks veggie is beetroot. I had plans to unveil the most amazing beetroot chocolate cake recipe, but... best laid plans and all that...
Beetroot is typically in season from May to October in Australia. Not only can you eat the root, but the leaves are edible too! From the same family as spinach and silverbeet (last weeks veggie!), the leaves have a similar nutrient profile - high in calcium, iron and vitamins A & C, while the root is high in manganese, potassium & folic acid. It's also recently become quite popular with athletes as beetroot can increase stamina and lower blood pressure (make of that what you will). Most of us think of purple beets as the only choice, but white and golden heirloom varieties are becoming increasingly easier to find. Choose small beets with the leaves still attached if you can, they are usually milder that the big ones, and take less time to cook!
I tested two different beetroot cake recipes this weekend, and neither of them quite delivered what I was looking for. Consequently, The Husband and I worked our way through a scary number of beetroots in two days. I got far too excited at my local farmers market on Saturday morning, and bought way more beets than I really needed for the cake I was planning. This turned out to be a lucky move since the first cake was a resolute failure. However, I was so confident of the outcome of the second cake, that I used the remaining (heirloom) beets for our lunch, which turned out to be by far the most successful endeavor of the weekend. Stupidly, I didn't get any photos before we dug in, which will make for a slightly boring, text heavy post. I apologise.
I really favour beets in their roasted form, slightly dried out, and deliciously sweet. I initially though plain roasted beets would be too boring for a blog recipe, hence my forays into the chocolate beetroot cake. But this recipe makes the most of my roasting preference, while also using the edible leaves I mentioned above!
Triple beetroot pasta
- 1 bunch of small/baby beetroot, stems intact
- 100g spaghetti, or other long pasta
- olive oil
- leaves and stems from the beets above
- small handful basil leaves (6-10 leaves)
- 2tbs shelled pistachios
- small clove of garlic, crushed or finely diced
- 1tbs grated Parmesan
- 2tbs olive oil
Preheat oven to 200°C. Trim the beets, reserving stems & leaves, and chop into eighths (or quarters if very small). In a bowl, toss the beets with a drizzle of oil and some salt & pepper. Put the beets in a roasting dish, or baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
While the beets are cooking, make the pesto. Wash and dry the beet leaves. Discard any yellow or slimy looking leaves. Chose the small leaves (leave stems on), working up to bigger leaves (trim stems on the bigger leaves) until you have a large handful. roughly chop the remaining leaves and set aside. Combine the handful of beet leaves & stems, the basil, garlic, pistachios and Parmesan in a food processor, and process until finely chopped. Slowly drizzle in the oil until a rough paste forms. Salt to taste & set aside.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. In the pasta pot, combine the cooked pasta with 1 tablespoon of the pesto, and little water if required to loosen. While still hot add in the reserved beet leaves and stir to wilt. Stir in the roasted beetroot and a little more pesto if required.
Serve in two bowls, with a dollop of pesto and a sprinkle of Parmesan on top, and some cracked pepper.
And don't worry, I do intend to keep working on the cake recipe - the second attempt was very close - and I'll share it once it's done.
What do you think of beetroot? Has the bright pink canned stuff turned you off?