I have a vague memory of beetroot in a white sauce. I don’t recall if it was a recipe I saw or just a mention but it stuck in my mind as it must, surely, be an oxymoron. Can you imagine beetroot in a white sauce, it is not possible, the sauce would of course turn pink. Barbie pink I imagine and there you would be with a pink sauce containing darker pink lumps of beetroot, extraordinary. The more I think of this the more I wonder if it was just a strange dream, surely it can’t have been a real recipe, although it does have a ring of the 70’s about it when all vegetables at one time or other were blanketed in a white sauce.
Anyway I don’t think I have ever eaten such a thing but I know it took me a while to come around to this vibrant coloured root and yet now, I can’t get enough of it. At school the beetroot was bright purple, usually hard and skidded around as you tried to cut the regulation sized orbs. It was soused in a vinegar so astringent that it made you cough and I remember girls drinking this in abundance believing it to be a tremendous weight loss aid. The coloured juice seeped into everything else on your plate along with its sharp dressing and was entirely uninviting. After school I managed to avoid beetroot almost entirely for years, eating it only when required to be polite and puzzling at the earthy taste and its ability to turn your wee pink.
So what happened, did I grow up, is it something to do with having children, embracing vegetables as never before? I now love it and seem to cook it every week, either chucked in the oven with other root veg, say carrots or Jerusalem artichokes and eaten simply with a roast chicken, green salad and my beloved garlic yogurt. Or cooked, then peeled and put in a salad, maybe with feta (Beetroot and Feta Salad, Nov 2012) or whizzed in a soup. I had thought to make this weeks soup into something jazzier with ideas of adding this or that. In the end however, I decided to keep it simple so that the earthy sweet taste of the beetroot shines through and along with its majestic colour, creates a lunch to make the soul soar.
4 beetroot, roughly cricket ball size, quartered
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
750ml chicken or vegetable stock
Creme fraiche, to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200. Put the beetroot, onion, oil and water into a baking tray, season and cover with foil. Cook in the oven for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the beetroot is tender. Put the vegetables and any juices into a large pan, add the stock and blend with a hand held blender, alternatively blitz it in a liquidiser. Reheat when you are ready to serve it, check the seasoning and add a small blob of creme fraiche if you like. Serves 4.