Baby Beets in Parmesan and Onion Sauce

This dish is particularly good with boiled gammon.


  • 675 g/ lb baby beets
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 30 g/ 1 oz butter
  • 30 g/ 1 oz flour
  • 600 ml/ 1 pt milk
  • 300 ml/ ½ pt chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 60 g/ 2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped chives, for garnish


Baby beets are usually sold ready-cooked. If raw, trim off the leaves, leaving about 2 cm / ¾ inch of the stalks protruding and cut off the straggly root tip. Boil for about 30 minutes in lots of lightly salted water, but always check that they are cooked because even young beets are very woody. Refresh in cold water and peel while still warm.

Sweat the spring onions in the butter until soft. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, over a low heat for 2 minutes. Turn up the heat and whisk in the milk, followed by the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and add nutmeg to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon and making sure you push the spoon right into the base edge where there is a tendency for the sauce to catch and burn. You should end up with about 600 ml/ 1 pt of sauce.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas 4. Whisk the lemon juice and grated Parmesan into the sauce. Add the beets and stir to coat, then transfer to a gratin dish. Heat through in the oven until very hot. Garnish with chopped chives before serving.