Under-rated root that you can’t beat as an ingredient

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From Morecambe Bay shrimps and Chorley cakes to hot pots and butter pies, Lancashire is blessed with some of the best food in the country.

To celebrate the best from the county’s natural larder, the Evening Post is teaming up with Booths for a monthly feature looking at what is in season and how to get the most out of it. To kick things off, we give you three beetroot recipes guaranteed to delight lovers and sceptics alike.

MOST of us have an old jar of pickled beetroot languishing somewhere at the back of the fridge, probably behind the piccalilli and those rollmop herrings granny brought round one Christmas.

Check the date - they more than likely went out of date in the last millennium.

Well, chuck it away because there is much more to this under-rated root than dousing it in cheap acid - and best of all Lancashire has some of the best around.

From candy-striped beets grown at Peter Ascroft’s Tarleton farm to the traditional magenta-coloured roots from Jason Coxhead’s farm in New Longton, there are loads of varieties.

They all pack a nutritional punch too, with a good source of iron and folic acid, as well as immune boosting antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure and fight cancer.

To celebrate this versatile ingredient, we’ve teamed up with local supermarket chain Booths and their local suppliers to come up with three recipes sure to win over sceptics and lovers alike.

RECIPES

BEETROOT AND FETA DIP

INGREDIENTS

3 raw beetroot

2 cloves of garlic

Slug of olive oil

3-4 tbl of Greek yoghurt

Splash of good red wine or sherry vinegar

Chopped dill

Crumbled feta cheese

Crushed pistachios

Salt and pepper

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).

Wrap beetroots in foil, with a splash of water and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about an hour, or until tender. With 10 minutes to go, wrap the garlic cloves in foil and roast until soft.

Leave to cool before peeling the beetroot. Squeeze the garlic from their skins into a food processor.

Pulse the garlic and beetroot together until they make a coarse paste. Mix with the yoghurt, a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil and a handful of chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top with crumbled feta and a good handful of crushed pistachios.

Serve with warm flatbreads or as part of a tapas spread.

‘LANCASHIRE PINEAPPLE’ AND CHEESE TART

INGREDIENTS

Two of Peter Ascroft’s ‘Lancashire pineapples’ (aka golden beetroot)

One traditional beetroot

120g goat’s cheese

200g ricotta cheese

Chopped thyme

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Tart case (or homemade shortcrust pastry, blind baked)

METHOD

Boil your golden and magenta beetroot separately in salted water for approximately 40 minutes, or until tender. Let cool before peeling and slice into thin rounds.

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).

Stir together both cheeses, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. Spread the mixture over your tart case.

Arrange beetroot rounds over the mixture, overlapping the different colours. Sprinkle with more thyme, salt, pepper and a good slug of olive oil.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm with a simple green salad.

HAKE WITH An EASY 
BEETROOT SALAD

INGREDIENTS

Three of Jason Coxhead’s traditional cooked loose beetroot

Half a red onion, finely sliced

Chopped dill

Splash of sherry vinegar

Olive oil

Sour cream

Juice and zest of half a lemon

Hake (or any white fish)

1tsp fennel seeds

1tbl butter

Rocket salad

METHOD

For a quick mid-week supper quarter the cooked beetroot and mix with finely sliced red onion, chopped dill and a splash of olive oil and vinegar (don’t use too much because they’ve already been dipped in malt vinegar). Leave to marinade.

Mix lemon juice and zest into a few tablespoons of yoghurt. Season well with salt and pepper.

Heat fennel seeds in a little oil before frying the seasoned fish. Add butter for the last few minutes and baste.

Serve the fish and salad with some dressed rocket leaves.

A simple, fresh and healthy dinner in under 10 minutes.

Jason Coxhead

Jason Coxhead produces traditional loose cooked beetroot for Booths at his farm in New Longton.

His family have been supplying the supermarket for 28 years with beetroots that are grown from seed, harvested, cooked and peeled by hand by a small team of just five people before being dipped in malt vinegar.

Jason is the only commercial grower in Lancashire still championing these traditional methods.

The beetroots are hand delivered to Booths supermarkets each day and sold loose so customers can choose as much or as little as they need.

Peter Ascroft

As well as supplying Booths with cauliflowers, cabbage, potatoes and red beetroot, Peter Ascroft grows two lesser known varieties of beets at his Tarleton farm.

The golden beetroot, which Peter has nicknamed his ‘Lancashire pineapples’, is an old heritage variety grown in the 19th century and prized for its sweetness and colouring that doesn’t stain recipes like its magenta cousin.

Peter, who has been supplying to Booths for more than 10 years, has also started growing candy beetroot this year. With its eye catching pink and white internal rings, the candy beetroot is great served raw as a garnish or grated raw in salads.