JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


This post is for my sister, who lives thousands of miles away in California, and who we don't see much. But - amazingly - she's just been over for three days, so last night I had dinner with her. At some point we started reminiscing, and we've done this so often that we now only need a couple of buzzwords to conjure up the memories. One of those buzzwords is beetroot, because we always had beetroot for school lunch on a Wednesday (what torture to give children exactly the same food each week!). The beetroot (soused in harsh malt vinegar) was accompanied by lumpy mashed potato and corned beef. When we were sent to a different school which sent us home early one day a week, we begged our mother to give us beetroot for lunch, and she did, accompanied by liver, another of our favourites.

Well I still love pickled beetroot, and so does my sister, but I much prefer the sweetness of baked beet, and I even like it raw. We often eat it, and it tastes nothing like the harsh sliced beetroot of my childhood.

Baked beetroot

Cut raw beets into chunks. I tend to use small beets, a bit bigger than a golf ball, and quarter them. Put them in a baking dish, add slithers of garlic, as many as you like, and some chopped thyme. Drizzle with oil (you don't want them sitting in a pool of oil) and mix until they are well coated. Bake in a hot oven for half an hour or so. Exact timings will obviously depend on the size of your chunks, but it's easy to tell when they're cooked, by piercing with a knife. This is good hot or cold. We eat it as a starter, with salmon, with chicken breasts & salsa verde, with lamb, or for lunch with bread and a little feta or goat's cheese.

Raw beetroot salad

Grate 4 small beetroot (c 725g). Finely chop a big bunch of coriander and of mint and add to the beet. Dress with the juice of a lemon. All this is obviously easier if you have a Magimix. Serve with 0% Greek yoghurt. I've adapted this from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's How to Eat.

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