03 February 2011

Beetroot and Ugly Carrots

 I love this time of year when I can go out into the garden and pick my dinner. It makes me feel much more like cooking interesting things. I made the roast veg tonight and the salad a few weeks ago.  I made way too much of the salad - grating really increases the volume of the veggies. I gave some to each of my neighbors, one of whom has a 3-yr old, so I kept the dressing pretty basic. You could also put in spring onions or Tabasco. I discovered that my other neighbor is a magician! The bowl I gave her the beetroot salad in appeared at my doorstep a few days later with Ferrero Rocher chocolates inside! I wish I could turn beets into chocolate (wouln't that be something to blog about)!

Here are two recipes I have made using whatever I had available in the pantry and the garden. Feel free to experiment and create your own flavors! I tend to use cookbooks for ideas and not follow the recipes exactly. I never would have thought of putting citrus in with the beets and carrots and it was delish! I used the herbs I had available in the garden and kitchen which meant some substitutions - like ginger instead of garlic. I planted about 20 cloves of garlic in the late winter and spring and they are GONE! Aaargh! Rotted, birds, who knows....? I have dug down to where they were and they are gone. I'm going to have to buy garlic

These colours are AMAZING! The only way to see carrots this colour is to pick them.  I wash and scrub outside in a bucket or big bowl and put the water right back in the veggie patch. The carrots are Nantes and the beetroot are Bull's Blood and Chiogga.  I thought my soil was super-friable but I still have split uglies. It could also be too much compost - they don't like nutrient-rich soil. The previous crop in this spot was tomatoes, and then the green manure over the winter.  I would have thought that the tomatoes wouldn't have left much in the way of nutrients after harvesting, even with the green manure crop.  I think I may try growing carrots in a big pot with lots of sand in the potting mix next time.

I also cooked the beet greens and stems separately by boiling for about 3 minutes - they're my favourite part of the plant. I find myself strangely not eating enough vegetables when there is nothing in the the garden because supermaket ones have no flavour to me. I put individual portions of the cooked beet greens in ziplock bags and froze them for later consumption.

recipes follow after the jump..

Roast Beetroot and Carrots
Recipe modified from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home cookbook. This was also a great TV series that showed growing tips along with the cooking.
  • 750gm beetroot (beets)
  • 750gm carrots
  • about a 1/2 cup fresh ginger (subsitituted for the garlic in his recipe)
  • a few sprigs each of rosemary, mint, and thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon (his recipe also calls for the juice of 1 orange, but alas, none in the pantry)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5tbs balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • calendula or other edible flowers for garnish
Boil the beets and carrots until just tender - about 15 minutes. His recipe says to keep the two veggies separate but doesn't say why. Maybe I missed that episode! I cooked them together and didn't mind the carrots having a bit of dayglo red.  If you're super-fussy, boil them separately and keep them in separate pans in the oven. Pre-heat oven to 220C/425F.   Peel the beets - the skin pretty much comes off with your fingers - again, if you don't mind pink fingers. I see why women used beets as lipstick and rouge during WW2 rationing! I peeled some of the really ugly carrots too. Chop the larger carrots and beets into big chunks. Some of my beetroot were Chiogga, a red and white striped variety that look pretty sliced.

Put the veggies in a roasing pan and add the oilve oil, lemon, balsamic vinegar, salt and herbs. Give everything a good mix and put on the middle shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes. Garnish with flower petals right before serving. Yum! I had this for dinner over brown rice sprinkled with Bulgarian feta cheese.
Mel's Beetroot and Ugly Carrot Salad
  • 4 or 5 beets
  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • extra virgin olive oil  and balsamic vinegar to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional - my carrots were ugly and bitter!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Scrub veggies well. Peel the beets.  Grate in the food processor or with a hand grate. Add the rest and stir well. Eat within 24 hours or it starts going off (probably due to the high level of sugars in the beets).

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