Wednesday 3 February 2010

I love my beetroot!

Last summer for the first time I planted beetroot (Beta vulgaris). It was not a great success as slugs got at them at a time when I was not free to care for them much, but I managed to pick a couple, and the leaves are still growing in the bed.

In my previous life in Italy I had always seen beetroot only packaged, never fresh: I liked it anyway, but the sweet taste was nauseating after a while, so you could only eat a little if well dosed with olive oil and vinegar.

In the UK, I first tasted beetroot as a drink at the garden centre cafe, and it tasted lovely. Then I found beetroots in my vegbox and finally I started buying them purposefully a couple of months ago. I had always boiled them before, so I had not realized their potential. But then I started dicing them to roast and stir fry with (sweet) potato, pumpkin, carrot and turnips, and yesterday I had a revelation when using them for pasta sauce. My goodness it was divine ...

Here's the recipe (for 3 people): very quick to make, it takes just the time for the water to boil on the hob and the pasta to cook (less than half an hour).

BLOODY GOOD PASTA (we named it after its colour)
1 small yellow onion
1 small aubergine
1 big beetroot
350gr plain passata di pomodoro
1 spoon dried oregano
Extra virgin olive oil q.b.
350 gr pasta (i.e. maccheroni or penne)

Finely chop the onion and dice the aubergine (some slice the aubergine, cover in salt and leave it to shed water before using it) and the peeled beetroot - the beetroot's bits should be half the size of the aubergine's.

Big pan with water on the hob, unsalted (takes a litre of water per 100gr pasta otherwise will be hard inside and soft outside). A spoonful salt needs adding when the water boils first and then the pasta when it starts boiling again. While the water warms up, put enough oil in a flat non-stick pan to cover the bottom with a thin layer. Cook the onion on low until soft then add the beetroot and the aubergine (be careful as this will absorb the oil quickly, add a little bit if necessary). When the veg is soft, add the passata and oregano and simmer until the pasta is cooked (or the mixture going dry if the sauce is ready first). Drain the pasta, leaving a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking water, throw in the sauce and sauté!

Well, well, February is sowing time for aubergines (under cover) and in one month it will be beetroot's time. I have four species for this year:
  • Dobbies Purple, organic;
  • Globe Boro F1;
  • Red Ace F1;
  • Bull's Blood, organic, plants (I thought I would have an emergency backup);

and the bed I had left out of my drawing is perfect to host them. Look forward to beetroot pasta with my own veg!

Beetroot is supposed to be a very healthy vegetable as well; on the BBC website I found an introduction to beetroot that looks very comprehensive.

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