Beetroot used to have a rather a bad reputation as a pickled dinosaur, but in recent years it’s become quite fashionable. It feels like a winter vegetable but suits summer’s light alfresco dishes just as well. Its earthy taste can take a little while to appreciate, but coupled with horseradish or salty cheeses like Pecorino, Parmesan, feta or Dolcelatte, it comes into its own.
I also find it a perfect accompaniment to Sunday lunch. It’s happy to sit in its foil parcel for a little longer than planned when the water for the carrots hasn’t boiled, the potatoes aren’t quite done, or you’ve forgotten to cook the vegetarian guest’s meal – as I did this weekend…
Roast beets with orange, bay, thyme and balsamic vinegar (Serves 3-4 as a side)
2-3 medium-sized beetroot
Juice of half an orange
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Peel beetroot – preferably over the sink as they tend to turn things purple.
Make a foil parcel by taking a single large sheet of foil, approximately 30cm long and folding it in half, then folding the sides over on themselves to seal it. Fold the bottom piece up a couple of times until you’ve created a bag.
Dice the beetroot into 1-2cm cubes and pop in the foil along with the rest of the ingredients, plus some salt and pepper. Seal the top and bake for between 45 minutes and an hour until tender.