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A Seasonal Recipe for Beetroot

Beetroot has just about come back into season. This versatile root vegetable bursts out in the spring and stays with us until the autumn, lending itself well to spring salads and more hearty dishes later in the year. Our favourite dish, however, is an old pasta recipe from a member of our team who likes to bring cold leftovers for lunch and we always marvel at the bright, ruby red strands of spaghetti and what a sight they make. The easy, quick and relatively cheap recipe is below, though let’s talk a bit more about the properties of beetroot itself.

Nutritional Notes from our expert Sue Camp

Why beets rock! Beets are bright red and the colour is appropriate – they are great for heart health! Beetroots and beetroot juice are exceptionally high in dietary nitrates. Your body can convert these nitrates into nitric oxide which travels through your artery walls, sending signals to the tiny muscle cells around your arteries and telling them to relax. Your blood vessels can then dilate allowing your blood pressure to go down. Researchers have concluded that just one glass of beetroot juice a day may be enough to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

Numerous studies suggest that nitrates can also enhance physical performance, particularly during high-intensity endurance exercise. Nitrates appear to affect physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, the tiny organs in our cells which are responsible for producing energy. Consumption of beetroots may improve running and cycling performance, increase stamina, improve oxygen use, and lead to better exercise performance overall. They also contain good levels of fibre and some important nutrients including some B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and potassium. The humble beet is versatile and can be roasted, steamed, boiled or pickled. They can also be eaten raw.

Ingredients

350g beetroot

1 chopped shallot

400g white spaghetti, snapped in half

600ml chicken or veg stock

125g hard goat’s cheese

Olive oil

Dress as you please – greens like baby beet leaves, rocket, or grated lemon zest and parmesan

Method

Roast beets in the oven at 180 degrees until soft through (about 20 – 35 minutes – pop a knife through them to check)

Remove skin from the beets and throw in the blender along with the stock and blitz to a smooth puree

Heat a glug of olive oil in a pan and add shallots

Cook until translucent (about two minutes)

Add broken spaghetti and stir to coat pasta in oil – it will jump around a fair bit but keep stirring for about three minutes to ensure it is covered and has had some contact with the heat

Pour beetroot puree over the top making sure it just covers the pasta (add a little more water if necessary)

Bring to a simmer and then lower heat, cover and cook for ten minutes or until the pasta has more or less absorbed the liquid and colour – if it hasn’t and your pasta is cooked, turn heat off and leave lid on for a few minutes to soak up a bit more

Grate your goat’s cheese (cheddar also works, as well as lots of other cheeses) and add to the mixture before stirring gently to melt and combine

Serve with green salad or with lemon zest and Parmesan

If cooking for one, reserve the other portion in an airtight container in the fridge overnight and enjoy cold for lunch the next day

Serves two big portions

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