Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oven-roasted beet wedges with rutabaga

Beets roasted in the oven together with other root vegetables provide comfort food that is full of the goodness of betaines and other phytonutrients. You might like to eat these vegetables with commercial soured cream, kefir or yoghurt to provide the calcium needed by the magnesium in the beet roots to support healthy muscles.

The creamy, smooth texture of the Hawaiian purple yam contrasts beautifully with the firm texture of the beet wedges and the caramelized rutabaga and carrot.

Oven-roasted beet root wedges, rutabaga,
carrot, purple yam and potatoes

                                                                                 Yield: 4 - 6 servings
Set oven to 425℉  (220℃)


1 beet root, 7.5 cm. (3 in.) in diameter, cut into wedges
¼ rutabaga, peeled, chopped
3 small white potatoes
3 small red potatoes
3 small purple potatoes
1 carrot, chopped
1 small Hawaiian purple yam
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
¼ red onion, peeled, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Beets, rutabaga and other root vegetables

1. Thoroughly wash all root vegetables under running water to remove sand and soil. Peel the beet, rutabaga and Hawaiian purple yam. 

2. Slice beet into 12 wedges. Place a 2-quart Dutch oven or similar lidded, oven-proof dish.

3. Cut rutabaga, purple yam and carrot into chunks, approximately 1.5 cm. (1/2 in.) thick. Add to the beet wedges.

4. Add small potatoes whole. 

5. Peel garlic cloves, slice each in half, and add to vegetables. Peel ¼ red onion, slice into chunks and add to root vegetables.

6. Dribble olive oil over vegetables. Stir to coat them. Grind sea salt and pepper over the mixture. Cover. 

Beet wedges and other root vegetables plus red onion and garlic

7. Place in oven at 425℉ ( 220℃) for 45 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, test the beets for done-ness by penetrating with an ordinary table fork. Roast uncovered until finish roasting to increase caramelize. When a fork will easily penetrate to the centre of a beet wedge, turn off the heat and remove the vegetables from oven.

8. These roasted root vegetables are delicious with any type of meat or poultry.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Beet and Blood orange salad

Beets roasted in this manner yield a succulence that I have been unable to replicate by other means of cooking. All the health benefits of beets are maintained and the nutrients remain stable (as far as I am able to ascertain).

Beet and Blood orange salad

                                                     Yield: 2 portions
 Set oven to 425℉  (220℃)


1 beet, 7.5 cm. (3in.) in diameter, roasted
1 Blood orange
1 sweet white onion
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: sprig of fresh mint


1. Wash beet and wrap in metal foil food wrap. Place in pre-heated oven. Roast for approximately 1 hour. Beet is cooked when easily pierced by a fork. Remove beet from oven. Place in a heat-proof, lidded container. Refrigerate until cold.

2. When beet is cold, unwrap, peel and grate coarsely.

3. Peel Blood orange. Slice crosswise 3 times, producing 4 rounds. Either break rounds into segments or slice each into 8 pieces. Add orange segments to grated beet. 

5. Cut one thin slice of onion. Dice finely. Place atop the beet and orange mixture.

6. Divide salad into two portions.

7. Make salad dressing: Mix orange juice, vinegar and olive oil together with a small grind of sea salt and black pepper. Pour half of the dressing onto each portion of beet and Blood orange salad. Garnish with fresh mint.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beet and shiitake soup

Enjoy the health benefits of beets and the umami of shiitake in this nutritious beet soup. This is slow food, not only because it is made in a slow cooker but, also,  because hydration of the beans and mushrooms is required prior to assembling the soup. 

Beet and Shiitake soup

Shiitake (pronounced shee-i-tah-kee) are a good source of protein and, it is claimed, Vitamin D (according to how they've been dried -- something we'll never know. ;-)  

Dried beans and dried shiitake
The dried shiitake found in packages in some food shops are frequently identified as 'dried flower mushrooms' and so, for this reason, I have included that nomenclature in this recipe. It is important to use them because they have the umami, i.e., the delicious, savoury taste, required to enhance the earthiness of the beet.

                                                         Yield: 4 - 6 servings
½ cup dried red beans
2 cups water
12 dried flower mushrooms* (**Shiitake)
1- 2 cups water
1 beet, approx. 5 cm. (3 in. ) in diameter
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ cups vanilla-flavoured rice drink
¼ - ½ cup chopped celery leaves
4 sprigs fresh dill
2 tablespoons plain Kefir, yoghurt, or commercial soured cream for each serving of soup
fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Place dried beans in a container that has a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 cups of water. Cover and leave the beans to hydrate for up to 24 hours (longer soaking results in a shorter cooking time than otherwise).

2. Place dried flower mushrooms in another container that has a lid which fits snuggly. Add just enough water to submerge the mushrooms. Cover and leave to soak until hydrated, up to 24 hours.

3. When mushrooms are hydrated, remove them with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid for later use in the slow cooker. Thinly slice mushrooms, removing the stems (which should be frozen and retained for use in making stock). Reserve the sliced mushrooms.

4. When you decide that the beans are sufficiently hydrated, drain them and discard the liquid. Place the beans in a slow cooker. Add the reserved mushrooms, together with the strained liquid reserved from having hydrated the mushrooms.

5. Wash the beet. Peel it thinly and slice thinly, as well. Add to slow cooker along with garlic, cumin, celery leaves, dill and 1 cup of rice drink.
Beet and shiitake mixture in slow cooker

6. Set the slow cooker's heat control to 'High', and leave the ingredients undisturbed for 1 - 2 hours. Remove a bean and test for doneness. If not soft in texture, continue cooking for another hour or longer, then test again. Ensure that the ingredients in the slow cooker remain just covered with liquid, adding rice drink if necessary.

Remember that every time the slow cooker lid is opened it takes about 15 minutes to re-elevate the internal temperature, so do not disturb the process unnecessarily.

7. When a bean is tested and found to be soft-textured, the soup is cooked. You may wish to serve it as it is.

Cooked beet and shiitake soup

8. I prefer a thick texture for this soup. Also, I do not like the transparent appearance of beets that have been boiled for such a lengthy time, so I prefer to complete this soup in the following way:

Ladle 2 - 3 scoops of the soup mixture into the container of a hand-held blending stick. Puree thoroughly. Return the puree to the soup pot and stir into the contents.

Partially pureed beet and shiitake soup

9. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle plain Kefir, yoghurt, or commercial soured cream on top of each bowl of soup. Grind a small amount of fresh black pepper onto each. Serve with multi-grain buns.

* Dried flower mushrooms are actually shiitakes. They are called by a variety of names in diverse countries, but the dried mushroom with the crackled crown is still the shiitake.

The word shiitake means tree mushroom. 'Shii' is the Japanese name of the tree on which the mushroom, i.e., the 'take', grows. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Roasted beets with goat cheese

Roasted beets are beautifully pared with the slightly tart nature of goat cheese.Here, the cheese is flavoured with dried cranberries and finely chopped pecans. 

Roasted beet halve with goat cheese

The creamy smoothness of this goat cheese filling together with the somewhat sweet-tasting roasted beet provides a very satisfying mouth-feel. This is a delicious entree.

Set oven to 425℉  (220℃)
                                                                                  Yield: 2 servings

Beets, cleaned and ready for cooking


1 beet root, 5 cm. (3 in.) in diameter
3-4 tablespoons plain goat cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
8 pecan halves

1. Brush and thoroughly wash beet. Place in pre-heated oven and roast for approximately 45 minutes. The beet is cooked when fork tines can easily be slipped into the beet. 

2. Remove beet from oven to a lidded, heat-proof container and leave to cool. Condensation will collect inside the container. This is beneficial for it will soften the skin for peeling.

3. In a small mixing bowl, place the goat cheese, mayonnaise and olive oil. Combine until smooth.

4. Chop the cranberries to a small dice. Add to cheese mixture. 

5. Chop pecan halves to a fine dice. Add 1 tablespoon of the diced pecans to the cheese mixture, reserving the remainder for garnish.

6. Combine the pecans, cranberries and cheese mixture. Set aside.

7. Carefully peel the beet. Slice away the crown (where the stalks grew) so that the beet can sit squarely on its top end. Slice away the root end, just enough so that the beet can sit squarely on its base. Setting the beet on a side, cut it in half across the middle. 

8. Place the bottom half on its base. Place the top half resting on the cut where the crown was. Scoop out about 1 cm. (less than ½ in.) of the middle flesh of each half, creating a small bowl-shape in each. Fill each beet half with about a tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture.

8. Garnish with reserved diced pecan. Place each beet half on a small serving plate.

Roasted beet with goat cheese filling for two