When I first came to Britain, twenty years ago today, beetroot could only be seen in the fresh vegetable section sold in small vacuum packed bags, soggy and pickled in white malt vinegar.
These days beetroot is considered superfood and given almost the centre stage, and it is well deserved. Some stores offer different varieties too, like the stripy chioggio or golden beetroot. There is so much you can do with this sweet, earthy, colourful root. I make cakes, roast them, and sometimes do dress them in some fruity balsamic vinegar like fig or raspberry, especially if they are freshly dug out from the vegetable garden. So maybe it is time to dig out your beetroots from the pickling sentence and start making fair play to this wonderful root.
The purple red colour of beetroots comes from betacyanin which is regarded as an important cancer fighting compound, they are rich in iron, magnesium, folic acid, and in their raw state they are a well known detoxifier because of their high content of glutathione.
Although there is a sense of summer’s ending, I still think that mezzes and lighter meals provide the balance to compensate for the richer foods we will require in the winter. This dip can easily take centre stage on an evening table, surrounded by crudités, pita bread, tiny falafels, or even as an accompaniment to smoked fish fillets and crisp green leaves.
1 tin of butter beans
3 large beetroots, peeled and cubed.
1 teaspoon of coriander seed
½ teaspoon of cumin seed
A tiny bit of cinnamon stick
A few pink peppercorns (optional)
Sea salt and pepper
1 heaped tablespoon of light tahini
a tiny drop of balsamic vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Pre heat the oven to 180c and place the beet chunks into a roasting dish and sprinkle with olive oil, season well with sea salt and pepper.
Whilst the beets are roasting (aprox 30 minutes as you don’t want them to overcook) toast the spices in a heavy based pan until they start popping.
You can transfer them to a pestle and mortar and bash them as much as you can before transferring them to your food processor bowl, add the drained and rinsed butter beans, the tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil and the roasted beetroots with all their juices.
Blitz until you get a good smooth consistency, adding oil if more moisture is needed. Adjust seasoning. You can always add some natural yogurt too. Serve at room temperature but keep refrigerated. It will keep for 2 or 3 days.
• Florencia Clifford is a zen cook and the author of Feeding Orchids To The Slugs: Tales Of The Zen Kitchen. For more, visit feedingorchidstotheslugs.wordpress.com