Cooking with beets

Beetroot and lemon

Beetroot isn’t something I’ve cooked with before, fresh or otherwise, but I LOVE when you get a bright pink beetroot flavoured plate of food in a restaurant, just like I did last weekend at the Ox and Finch. The other inspiration for cooking with beetroot has come from Mr F&P purchasing Runner’s World “The New Complete Guide to Nutrition”. Running to the beet and all that.

With this new found love of beetroot, so far we’ve just chucked it in stir-frys and this evening I decided to try beetroot pearl barley risotto. I also made some chicken strips with a lemon and parmesan crumb, some roasted baby tomatoes, kale and green beans.

I didn’t follow any particular recipe as such, so I am sure there are tastier combinations about there. However, here’s what I decide to whizz up…

To make the risotto:

Chop half an onion and 2 -3 garlic gloves, pop in a pan with some good olive oil and cook until soft. Measure out your pearl barley – I used half a cup per person, this turned out to be faaar too much, so I’d say a quarter of a cup per person (sorry, I don’t do grams when cooking!)

Pearl Barley and cup

Pop the barley in with your onions and garlic and cook on a low heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile boil the kettle and mix up a vegetable stock cube, I use Knorr stock pots. Add the stock to the risotto, turn down the heat and allow to simmer away for about 30-40minutes, topping the barley up with water when needed.

And now for the beetroot. I was using pre-cooked beetroot, and I just chopped one up, popped it in the blender along with some lemon juice and salt…

beetroot in blender

blended beetroot with lemon and salt

I wanted the risotto to have a really intense, bright pinky/purple colour, but I’ve realised I added the beetroot too early, and as it cooked in the risotto the colour really faded. So, I’d advising adding your beetroot with about 5 or 10 mins left to go – when I first put it in the pan the colour was awesome!

Finally, when most of the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are soft, stir in some lovely parmesan.

Parmesan

Now, on to the chicken strips – these were so, SO, easy, yet really tasty and I think they went quite well with the risotto. The crumb is simple – just whizz up some breadcrumbs and parmesan in your blender. (I should have mentioned at the start, clearly you’ve got to be on board with parmesan cheese try this recipe!) For 6 or 7 small strips of chicken I used one slice of bread and a small handful of grated parmesan. Transfer the crumbs into a bowl and mix in the juice of half a lemon and some olive oil.

Lay your chicken strips out on your oven dish or baking tray, and just pat some of the crumb into the top of each strip – it’s easiest just to use your fingers, and don’t stress about being neat!

chicken strips

I also added some cherry tomatoes that needed using up to the tray. The chicken then goes in the oven at about 180-200 degrees C for about 25 minutes – just make sure the chicken is cooked through and you want the crumb to be turning nice and brown, but not burning.

Finally, I steamed some kale and served with a green salad we had in the fridge, but that was a bit of an after thought. Once it’s all ready, plate up and enjoy!

plate up

dish close up

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