Meat Free Monday

beetrootI have vivid memories as a child of jars of beetroot swimming in dreadful vinegar, which almost put me off it forever. Luckily I discovered later in life how flavoursome and versatile this root vegetable can be. Beetroot is in season now so buy it in a bunch and savour that delicious earthy smell and amazingly sweet taste.

While I don’t usually make any claims for cancer fighting food, it is claimed that specific anti-carcinogens are bound to the red colouring matter in beetroot which supposedly helps fight against cancer. Additional studies are taking place to add support to these claims. However, cancer fighting or not, what is proven is that beetroot is of great nutritional value in our diets. The green leafy part of the beetroot contains beta-carotene and other carotenoids,which function as antioxidants. This part of the beet also contains lots of folate, iron, potassium and some vitamin C. Try eating the leaves and stalk boiled or steam and accompany with other more flavoursome vegies like onions and garlic. Or chop finely and add to quiches, salads or stir fries.

My all time favourite way of cooking beetroot is to roast is slowly in the oven which really brings out the delicious sweetness of it.  It can then be served either hot or cold and tastes even better the next day when the flavours have developed.

Simply heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Wash and cut each beetroot into 4-6 wedges and arrange in a large roasting tin. When you buy fresh beetroot it will still have the leaves and stalks attached, so cut off the stalks but make sure you leave some of the stalk in tact. By doing this it will help to stop the beetroot from losing its colour when you cook it and helps to hold in the nutrients. Mix together 2 tsp each balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey and pour over the beetroot. Season well, and toss together so all the beetroot is thoroughly coated in the dressing. Sprinkle some fresh thyme over it all and roast until the beetroot is sticky and glazed.