Roast baby beetroot and red onions

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    8

    as a side dish
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes

Vegetables

By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

  • About

Baby vegetables are perhaps the most faddish of all cheffy ingredients. It seems every other year they’re in, the next they’re out. However, of all the baby veggies, I most like beetroot and carrots, as they really do seem sweeter and are cuter to look at. The beetroot I used here were very small; but whether they’re this size when you cook with them or slightly larger (up to a walnut size), the technique is exactly the same. If you buy beetroot without leaves, don’t worry; just replace them with small spinach or chard leaves and cook in the same way. I like to serve these vegetables with roast meats, as you would a bowl of boiled potatoes, but they are also delicious as a starter with some fresh ricotta and chopped hard-boiled egg on top.

Ingredients

  • large bunch of baby beetroots with leaves attached (about 500g)
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 100 ml white wine or water
  • a little chilli powder (optional)
  • 50 g pecorino cheese, shaved (or use Parmesan or any aged firm cheese)

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. You’ll need to wash the beetroots well – they have a habit of attracting grit to the base of their leave stalks. Cut the leaves off 2cm above the top of the beets and set aside. Place the unpeeled beets in a sink of tepid water and leave to sit for 5 minutes, then carefully rub them with your fingers or a gentle brush to dislodge any dirt. Change the water and wash the leaves, then drain and keep separate.

Heat an ovenproof sauté pan that has a tight-fitting lid and sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until just beginning to caramelize. Add the beetroots, rosemary and a teaspoon of salt, and fry for another 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and 4 tablespoons of water, and stir it all together, then seal the pan tightly (or transfer to a roasting dish, which you’ll need to seal tightly) and roast until the beets are cooked through. Beets like the ones in the photograph took 25 minutes; ones the size of walnuts will take up to 45 minutes – just poke them with a skewer, which should just go through when they’re done.

Heat a wide pan and add the remaining oil, then add the garlic and sauté until golden. Add the beetroot leaves and the wine or water, and cook over a moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the leaves have wilted. Season with salt and pepper, or a little chilli powder.

Once the beetroots are cooked, toss them with the leaves and all the juices from both the pan and roasting dish. Scatter the cheese on top and serve.