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A Simple Beetroot Relish

September 16, 2015


Ask the average person about beetroot and they will imagine a tin of the sliced pickled stuff. I think it is the most compulsory feature that makes an Aussie hamburger, Australian, and people either love it or hate it.

In my Thermomix consulting days, I used to make a wonderful beetroot salad at demonstrations, using fresh, raw beetroot and I was continually surprised by the number of people who loved beetroot but had never used it fresh.

Admittedly, it is a bit fiddly to prepare as the natural colour compound, betanin, gets everywhere. I avoid this by donning a pair of disposable gloves when peeling or chopping; or, I wash and then roast the beetroot whole & unpeeled.

Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and root can be eaten – and apart from deep purple, the roots can also be white or golden yellow.

Beetroot is of exceptional nutritional value; especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C and the roots are an excellent source of folic acid, manganese and potassium. The betaines, where the colour comes from, have been shown to reduce the concentration of homocysteine in the blood.  High levels of homocysteine may be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of high blood pressure & cardiovascular disease*.

Betanin is not broken down in the body, and in high concentrations may cause your pee and poo to assume a reddish colour; a cause of alarm in those who have not been warned! This is completely harmless and subsides once the betanin is out of the system.

Conversely, betanin degrades when subjected to heat and light, but is more stable with sugar and acid, which is why pickling beetroot is so common place.  If you open a can of beetroot from varying manufacturers, the colour can indicate the level of sugar and acid present. By the way, as a food additive, betanin is E162.

steak sandwichI love to serve this relish with everything from a steak sandwich to scrambled eggs. It goes well with BBQ meats or with a simple chunk of Gruyère on a cheese platter. In this relish recipe I have reduced the amount of vinegar compared to commercial versions, and used a little honey instead of sugar in an effort to make it more healthier. I wanted to retain the flavour of the beetroot rather than disguising it in sugar. For the same reason, I haven’t used many strong spices, just settling for a hint of rosemary and caraway. I think a little fresh grated horseradish goes well too, if you have access to some.

The tomato paste helps consolidate and intensify the flavour without the need for adding a starch or more sugar to thicken. What do you think you might serve this relish with?

1 small sprig of rosemary

1 clove garlic

1 medium onion

30g oil

650g fresh beetroot, peeled, chopped

50g water

50g red (or white) wine vinegar

50g honey (or brown rice syrup)

1 tab tomato paste

1 teas caraway seeds

1 teas grated horseradish (optional)

1 teas salt

Chop the rosemary & garlic on SP 9 for 10 seconds.

Add the onion and chop for another few seconds and the add the oil. Scrape down the bowl and sauté for 2 minutes on SP 1 at 100ºC.

Add the beetroot and chop on SP 4 until fine, but not puréed**. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 10 minutes at 100ºC, SP 2 REVERSE with the MC on.

Cook for another 20 minutes, SP 2 REVERSE with the MC off. Bottle when hot and keep in the fridge. Serve as a condiment with BBQ meats or your steak sandwich!

*This hypothesis is controversial as it has not yet been established whether homocysteine itself is harmful or is just an indicator of increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

**For aesthetic reasons I have grated the beetroot on a microplane rather than chop it in the TM. Whichever works for you.

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