What is a beetroot?
Also known as the garden beet, the beetroot is a sweet, maroon coloured root vegetable. It is a healthy, low-calorie food filled with fiber. It is known to help improve health conditions such as high blood pressure. The leaves of the red beet can also be eaten.
Beetroot can be consumed in a variety of ways. If consumed raw, beets should first be peeled. The top and bottom of the root should also be removed prior to ingesting. Beets can also be boiled, sautéed, pickled, fried, juiced, steamed, pureed, grilled, or baked. When cooking beets, the skin may be left on until it is loose enough to fall off, retaining the vegetable’s vivid color.
Soups made from beets, such as cold borsch, are popular in Europe. Pickled beets are a typical way of serving the plant; these are often served on hamburgers in Australia and New Zealand. Juices from the pickled vegetables are often used to prepare other dishes, such as hardboiled eggs, as well. Another common way of serving the vegetable is as a side dish or salad component.
Canned beets are generally considered to have an inferior taste to fresh beets. Beetroot can be grown at home by planting seeds following the last frost of the spring. The plants require sparse, weekly watering during the majority of the season, with daily moisture provided on hot days.
Caution should be used when preparing beetroot. The colorful pigmentation of the vegetable can stain clothing. If consumed in large quantities, the vegetable can also cause discoloration, typically in a shade of pink, of the urine. This light sensitive vegetable will also turn colors when cut and exposed to light.
Ten beetroot facts
1. The beetroot we eat now is Beta vulgaris, which evolved as a cultivated version of the sea beet, Beta maritima.
2. The ancient Greeks offered beetroot to the god Apollo on silver platters at his temple at Delphi.
3. The 17th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper said that beetroot juice is good for headaches and afflictions of the brain.
4. Martin Chuzzlewit is the only novel by Charles Dickens that mentions beetroot.
5. The sugar beet has been the official state historic vegetable of Utah since 2002.
7. The Lupanare, the official brothel of Pompeii, had its walls decorated with pictures of beetroots.
8. One of Alan Sugar’s (the English entrepreneur )first jobs at the age of 11 involved boiling beetroot for a local greengrocer.
9. When American astronauts on Apollo 18 docked with Russians on Soyuz 19 in 1975, the Russians offered them traditional foods including beetroot and cabbage soup.
10. The world’s biggest beetroot was grown in 2005 by Dutchman Piet de Goede weighing 156lb 10oz.
Beetroot risotto, Barbabietole risotto
1.5 litres good quality vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
1tbsp olive oil
4 shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
350g (12oz) fresh beetroot, peeled and diced. ( while peeling and chopping wear latex gloves, otherwise you lend up with red fingers )
1, Heat the stock in a saucepan until almost boiling, then reduce heat until barely simmering to keep it hot.
2, Heat the oil in a shallow heavy-based pan. Sauté the shallot, garlic, bay leaves, beetroot and half of the thyme until softened (about 6-8 minutes).
3, Add the rice and stir well until the grains are well coated and glistening.
4, Pour in the wine, stir and let the rice absorb everything
5, add one ladleful of hot stock let it simmer, stirring all the time until it has been absorbed.
6, Continue to add the stock at intervals and cook as before until the rice is tender but firm.
7, Add the butter and most of the cheese and stir gently.
8, Serve scattered with the remaining thyme, the remaining cheese, a good grinding of black pepper and a touch of salt but not too much as the Parmesan gives salt too
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