A popular beet combo

No doubt many of us have had our appreciation of beetroot tainted by the sliced, tinned variety or the vinegary pickled memory of school dinners, but fresh beetroot is easy and convenient to prepare. The rule is not to overcook it.The way to get the best mileage out of your beetroot is to roast it.There's nothing quite like roast beetroot - slightly caramelised and with a rich earthy flavour, it's delicious.
The flavour of beetroot is a mixture of sweetness - from its relatively high sugar content - and a pleasant bitterness derived from its ancestor, the wild sea beet. When these two characteristics are in perfect balance and the beetroot is cooked neither too little nor too much, this is one of the most delicious vegetables, and I´m campaigning for you to eat more of it before the food police are back on our case hauling us over for consuming too much "natural" sugar. Here are my unbeatable "Fab Four" recipes.

Three Cheese and caramelised beetroot pasta
Raw grated beetroot sandwich with parsley and Presunto Serrano
Beetroot and fresh goats cheese stack
Beetroot gazpacho

Beetroot and fresh goats cheese stack (above)

Per portion
3 round slices of freshly roasted beetroot
2 rounds of fresh Goats cheese or feta
Assorted salad leaves and herbs
Salad dressing of your choice
chopped walnuts (optional)

Take a pastry cutter the size of your cheese and cut rounds of beetroot to the same size.
Assemble the stacks in the middle of each plate starting with a base of beetroot and then alternating the cheese with the beetroot ending with a final top slice of beetroot.scatter some salad leaves, sprigs of coriander and /or mint around the stack and some chopped walnuts if using.

Beetroot gazpacho

3 medium-sized beetroots
3 tomatoes skinned and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
150g/ 5oz onions peeled and thinly sliced
1clove of garlic peeled and crushed
6 desertspoons of good quality sherry vinegar
Valdespino, Lustau or Pedro Ximenez
salt and pepper
1 large handful fresh coriander
150ml / 5fl oz hot chicken stock
Flat leaf parsley

Wash and trim the beetroots. leaving the roots intact so the colour doesn´t bleed. Bake them in individual foil parcels in a medium oven until cooked, pierce with a skewer after 45 minutes. Skin and slice them thinly as soon as they´re cool enough to handle. Chop the tomatoes coarsely.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic gently until softened but not coloured. Pour over the vinegar, and add the tomato,beetroot slices and seasoning.Cook with a lid on very gently for an hour. Check the moisture level from time to time. Liquidize, or blitz in a food processor with the fresh coriander, diluting the mixture with tomato passata or tomato puree as you go until you reach your desired consistency.Chill overnight and serve in bowls or glasses with ice cubes and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Raw grated beetroot sandwich 
with parsley and Presunto Serrano
This is one of the popular items I created back in the days of "panini etc" when I was the
sandwich man.
Slice a baguette or bread roll of your choice in half lengthways.Drizzle the insides of both slices with extra virgin olive oil.Lay slices of Presunto or prosciutto on the bottom slice. In a bowl toss generous amounts of grated beetroot and flat leaf parsley with vinaigrette then layer on top of the meat.Eat straight away.

Three Cheese,sage and caramelised beetroot pasta
I have been making this for years now but cant remember where the recipe originated.No amount of googling or combing the bookshelves has produced a result but I suspect its creator might have been Donna Hay.Please forgive me whoever you are if I am wrong,but thank you for this stunning and ingenious recipe.

Serves 4
6 small beetroot (750g approx) peeled and cut into small chunks
6 cloves garlic,left whole and unpeeled
1/2 cup sage leaves
1 tablespoon muscavado sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
400g farfalle(bow)pasta or penne
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 cup mascarpone cheese,ricotta or requeijao
120g Goats cheese(chevre) 

Pre-heat the oven to 180C(355F).Put the beetroot,garlic,sage,sugar,olive oil,salt and pepper in a baking dish and toss to coat.roast for 30-35 minutes or until the beetroot is tender and caramelised.Remove the garlic and mash it using the back of a teaspoon to form a smooth paste.Discard the skins.Set aside and keep warm.Cook thepasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes or until al dente.Drain and return the pasta to the pan.tir in the parmesan,mascarpone,goats cheese,beetroot mixture,garlic paste and check the seasoning.Toss well to combine.

Beetroot goes with
Extra virgin olive oil; butter; sesame oil; vinegar; soy; anchovies;prosciutto; pancetta; bacon; sausages; duck; venison; chicken; quail; celery; carrot; garlic( especially roast garlic); parsley; thyme; sage; celeriac; onion.Feta, mascarpone, requeijoao, yoghurt.

Choose beetroot that is firm and preferably with its top leaves looking fresh and crisp. Generally, the larger the beetroot the more flavour it has, though if it gets too big it can be woody and tough.


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