Meanwhile, beetroot is still available for more conventional uses. It’s particularly good roasted and served cold, as a salad; and it’s a cunning ingredient in cakes and puddings.
Beetroot and Walnut Salad (serves 4)
600g beetroot, the younger the better
12 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
salt and pepper
100g walnuts, chopped roughly
a generous handful of chopped parsley
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Cut the beetroot into large chunks. Put into a roasting pan with the garlic. Trickle over some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cover with silver foil, and put in the oven for 45 minutes. Take off the silver foil and roast for another 45 minutes or so, till a knife goes in easily. (Keep an eye on the garlic, which should soften – left too long it will overcook, become nutty and hard.) Allow to cool.
Put the beetroot into a bowl. Peel the cooked garlic and mash it up. Add it to the beetroot, along with the walnuts and the parsley. Sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar and a little more oil. Mix well.
Good with some soft goat’s cheese, or smoked mackerel.
Beetroot and Orange Seed Cake
150g dark brown sugar
150ml sunflower oil
75g seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, linseed
180g plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
grated zest of two oranges
Heat the oven to 180°C. Line a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.
Peel and grate the beetroot – quite a workout. Beat together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put in the oven. Test after 40 minutes. A skewer should come out clean, just. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
PS The other day, in a regulation proposed by the MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, a farmer, the French government ruled that manufacturers of vegetarian and vegan meat-substitutes should not be allowed to use meat-words such as steak, bacon, sausage to describe their products. So, no more vegan pulled pork, no more vegan chicken wings in France. Tough measures.
Words by Orlando Gough