Beetroot, from seed to plate!

In recent years beetroot has been labeled THE “super food” and has even been proven to reduce high blood pressure. I’ve found beetroot to be one of the simplest crops to grow and doesn’t take up a lot of space, it’s also a quick crop ready to harvest in just 90 days from sowing.

This year I’m growing three varieties, Detroit 2 which are a deep maroon, Chioggia with pretty stripy flesh perfect for salads and finally Boltardy. I’m trying to grow successionally, the first batch was sown in early spring on the window sill, and the second will be sown straight in the raised bed.

The seeds germinate quickly and produce multiple seedlings. Beetroot ‘seeds’ are actually seed clusters, with between 1 and 6 viable plants. I don’t like thinning them out as it seems like a waste but it will help the strongest grow!

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Beetroot is ready to be harvested from a golf ball up to a cricket ball size. Simply lift the roots from the soil and cut off the leaves, leaving at least an inch of foliage. That little bit of foliage will mean that the colour from the beetroot wont bleed out too much when cooking.

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Traditionally we think of jars of pickled beetroot but there are lots of other uses for it. Beetroot Keftedes is the perfect summer snack or addition to a bbq feast. Think of these as a vegetarian meatball! I’ve experimented with freezing the mixture before and after cooking, both work a treat!

Beetroot Keftedes

Serves 4

200g fresh beetroot, cooked, peeled and grated

2 spring onions, finely chopped

3tbsp grated parmesan

240g feta cheese, crumbled

1 egg

2tbsp basil

1tbsp mint

1tbsp parsley

220g breadcrumbs

60g plain flour

olive oil for frying

1 lemon

salt and pepper

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1 Mix the beetroot, spring onions, cheese, egg and chopped herbs together. Season, then mix in enough breadcrumbs to bind the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2 Shape the mixture into golfball-size balls, adding a little flour if the mixture is too wet.

3 Season the flour and coat the balls in it. Heat the oil until hot, but not smoking, and fry the balls in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

These can be served hot accompanying a salad and steamed fish, any left overs can be kept cold for packed lunches the next day!

 

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