Beetroot is an incredibly healthy vegetable. Full of micronutrients such as vitamin C, iron, manganese, potassium and fiber, it has an excellent antioxidant action on the body, as well as its well-known effects on the blood – beetroot and beetroot juice, are often prescribed as a natural remedy for anemia.
I confess to not being as regular as I could in cooking beetroot at home, but my favorite vegan restaurant here in the neighborhood does a brilliant marinated beetroot that motivated me to investigate.
Also, after my food intolerance test, I’ve been avoiding eating too many legumes, which means I’ve been actively seeking adequate substitutes for hummus. In what can I dip my precious carrots now??
These past two weeks I’ve researched in my favorite books and came up with a few good suggestions, from Amy Chaplin, and from Green Kitchen Stories. Having tried them a couple of times, it’s worth sharing my take on each of them.
Recipe 1: Marinated beetroot, from Amy Chaplin
Remember her Glow Chef Questionnaire? Totally worth rereading it, HERE.
Inês mentioned Amy Chaplin’s book as her absolute favorite, and that was too tempting to let go. I quickly ordered it from Amazon, and now I vouch for Inês’ choice. The book is terrific for anyone who wants to get serious at cooking and eating more plants.
It’s a book written by a chef who wants you to be really healthy! I’ve tried several recipes already and love them. Check it out HERE.
This is a straightforward recipe, that is perfect as part of a buddha bowl, just like I eat at the restaurant, or over a green salad, using the marinade as the dressing.
If pressed for time, or unwilling to paint your hands pink, you can even buy pre-cooked beetroot and just prepare the marinade.
I’ve adapted a tiny little bit, because I can resist, and because I didn’t have balsamic vinegar…
for two portions
- Two medium sized beetroots, preferably organic
- Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Two tablespoons apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized, with the mother)
- One tablespoon lemon juice
- Sea salt for seasoning
Peel the beets and cut each one into eight segments, just like you’d do to an orange.
Place them in a shallow pan with about a quarter inch water, on the stove. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat.
Let the beets steam for about 5 minutes – they should be soft but still holding their shape. You can always test them with a toothpick.
Let the beets cool down a bit while you make the marinade.
Combine the marinade ingredients with the help of a small whisk or a fork.
Place the beets in a serving bowl or, if you want to store in the fridge, in a glass container with a lid. Pour over the marinade and stir to make sure all the beetroot is well seasoned.
Either eat right away or store in the fridge for a couple of days.
Things I would add to the marinade if feeling creative
- 1/4 teaspoon organic lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
- Substitute lemon juice with lime juice (and zest)
- Cutting the beets into round slices, instead of segments.
- Using this marinade to season a beetroot carpaccio.
Recipe 2: Beet and avocado spread, from Green Kitchen Stories at Home
I first came across this recipe when in Mozambique. When I’m there, I always end up ordering Kindle cookbooks and read them from cover to cover, sitting on the balcony, facing the Indian Ocean… Quite romantic 😉
This recipe called my attention due to the seasonings, a bit unusual in this type of cookbook. The original method uses capers and Dijon mustard. I love both, I must say.
However, I’ve been tinkering with it post-food intolerance test: mustard showed up on the “not so good” foods, and I’ve been good at eliminating those for now.
So, what you see here is my take on the spread, a bit on the macrobiotic side of the spectrum. I substituted the sourness and saltiness of the capers and the mustard with miso and umeboshi seasoning. For me, it’s easy to get these ingredients, and I like the grounding and anti-inflammatory effect they have on my body. Check out below for a short explanation of both.
However, please do buy the book, or borrow it if you have the chance, you’ll love as much as I do. And try the original recipe.
enough for a party of four
- One large avocado
- One large beetroot
- One tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- One teaspoon white miso paste
- One teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Peel and stone the avocado. Place the flesh in the bowl of a food processor.
Peel the beetroot and dice it. Add it to the food processor.
Add the remaining ingredients. Pulse until creamy.
Taste and adjust the seasonings to your taste – I usually add lemon juice because I love the acidic touch.
Make it your own
I know a few people will be frustrated by the lack of exact measures for salt and pepper, or the comment “adjust to your taste.”
But, actually, that is the key to start owning your food. It’s about getting to know what type of flavor gets you to the point of satisfaction, instead of just saying “blah, I don’t like beetroot at all!”.
So, I dare you: play with the seasonings, taste along the way and decide which of the four pillars of taste – sweet, sour, salty and bitter – makes you happy. ‘Umami’ is the fifth, and umeboshi undoubtedly contributes to that one!
The funny ingredients
Umeboshi are little Japanese plums that are fermented for a long time and used as a condiment both in Japanese and macrobiotic diets. Its taste is strongly salted and sour, not unlike vinegar or capers.
They are said to have a positive impact on the human health, from easing digestion to having antiseptic, antioxidant and alkalizing effects. Like most fermented foods, it’s good for your gut’s health too.
You can get them mainly in three forms: the actual plum, a paste or a seasoning (like vinegar). In this recipe, I used the seasoning because I needed the liquid to make the magic happen with the other ingredients. Otherwise, I tend to favor the paste.
Miso is a paste made of fermented soybeans, usually with a grain – barley or rice are the most frequent. Very traditional of Japanese cuisine, it’s also widely used in the vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic diets as a source of protein, some vitamins and minerals and friendly gut bacteria too.
Taste wise, miso brings your dishes a salty umami component. You’ll find many different kinds available. Usually, the darker the paste, the saltier it’s taste.
One thing to know about miso: if you overheat it, you’ll kill all its health benefits, as the fermented bacteria will not resist. To take full advantage of miso paste, you should add it to your dish only in the final stages of cooking, after turning off the heat. Or even to a raw recipe such as this particular spread.