Forget the jars of pickled beetroot on the shelf at the supermarket. Or the vacuum sealed packs in the salad aisle. September and October is a great time of year to find yourself some fresh raw beetroot at the local market or from the allotment.
Beets are two vegetables in one – a root vegetable with a leafy green vegetable attached on the top!
The nutritional and health benefits of beets are vast. They are high in B-vitamins and beta-carotene – an antioxidant – which help to detox the body and also to repair the body tissues. Beets are great for beating fatigue. They are also high in fibre and are a rich source of the amino acid glutamine – required for the health of your intestinal tract. The vitamins and minerals in beets help to support all areas of your body, and two of the effects on the body are to reduce blood pressure and prevent constipation.
Try grating the beetroot straight into your salads. They also work wonderfully in juices (see this weeks juice recipe – Beet this), turning the juice bright red. Use the leaf tops in your salad too. Read on for our wonderful creamy (without the cream!) beetroot risotto.
Ingredients for Beetroot Risotto (serves 4)
- 250g raw beetroot, washed trimmed and cut into wedges
- 100g courgettes, cut into 2.5cm/1 inch lengths
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, finely diced
- 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 200g Arborio rice – or use wholegrain/brown rice
- 1 litre simmering vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp snipped fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
1. Warm the oven to a low heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the beetroot wedges and place in the oven; cook for 30 minutes then add in the courgette and cook for a further 30 minutes or until soft.
2. To make the risotto, cook the onion and celery in a pan, with a little water, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. If necessary, add more water to stop the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
3. Reduce the heat, add the rice and mix to coat in the juices. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes or until the grains are translucent.
4. Gradually add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir constantly and add more liquid as the rice absorbs each addition. Increase the heat to medium so that the liquid bubbles. Cook for 20 minutes or until all but 2 tablespoons of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is creamy.
5. Take one quarter of the beetroot mixture and blend it together to make a puree. Cut the remaining beetroot wedges into smaller cubes. Cut the courgette pieces into smaller cubes.
6. Stir the beetroot and courgette into the risotto. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the thyme and basil mixing well. Remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately.
If you use brown rice, remember to extend the cooking time in step 4. And, make it even more nutritious by shredding the beet leaves into the dish a few minutes before.
Cook this dish to bring beautiful autumn red colours inside onto your plate. Fabulous!