Michelle Grady on why beetroot is unbeetable…
Often added as an afterthought to boring salads (and often from a jar, soaked in too-tangy vinegar) beetroot surely deserves its moment in the spotlight – and when better than at the start of a new year, a time when many of us are looking to put all that festive over-indulgence behind us and start getting some good stuff back into our bodies.
So, what’s so good about beetroot? For a start, it’s low in fat and crammed with vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants, making it a rather super superfood. It is also thought to aid athletic performance (great for that all-important post-Christmas exercise regime) and may even help to regulate blood pressure. Wellbeing benefits aside, it’s incredibly versatile too; you can mash it up with potatoes for an interesting side, use it to add flavour to a pasta dish, blend it up to make a soup or smoothie, or even bake it in a brownie (not the most health-conscious choice, but tasty nonetheless). We’re fans of beetroot crisps, which are really easy to make at home – simply finely slice a couple of medium-sized beetroots, coat in oil, and place on a non-stick baking tray in the oven at 140C for around an hour (checking halfway through to make sure they’re baking evenly) and sprinkle with sea salt when done. Beetroot with pearl barley and goat’s cheese is another favourite and makes for a delicious summer salad.
The versatility and health benefits of this rich-hued root vegetable means shoppers have been buying more and more of it in recent years, and sales have gone up by around 20 per cent, but it perhaps still hasn’t quite made it as a foodie kitchen staple – possibly because many still associate it with the aforementioned vinegar-drenched stuff sold in jars. When you buy it fresh – or cooked but unvinegared – and use it a bit more creatively, however, beetroot really comes into its own. This one-pot dish from Love Beetroot is ideal for this time of year – comforting, filling and simple to make. The mellow sweetness of the beetroot works beautifully with tender chicken.
Love Beetroot’s One-Pan Roast Chicken with Beetroot, Potatoes & Carrots
500g new potatoes, cut into wedges
250g pack cooked beetroot, cut into halves
250g Chantenay carrots, or 250g large carrots peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, cut into fine slices
2-3 sprigs for thyme
175ml white wine
4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken legs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. In a large roasting tin, mix the potatoes, beetroot, carrots, onion and garlic.
2. Drizzle over the olive oil and pour over the wine, and tuck the thyme in between the vegetables. Season well with salt & pepper.
3. Season the chicken legs all over with salt and pepper and lay them on top of the vegetables. Cover loosely with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the foil from the tin and return to the oven. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is golden and crisp and the vegetable are cooked through.