I get a regular veggie box and I can almost guarantee every single one I get will have beetroots. I’ve been with several providers now, but a bounty of beets is something they all share.
Don’t get me wrong – I love them. I’ve roasted, boiled, pickled and grated them raw into salad. And however many I use or give away, I somehow still have some lurking in the back of the fridge, looking for some new application.
This time, on the occasion of roasting some as part of a BBQ, I was looking through my latest cookbook, picked up at my favourite local second-hand book shop.
Reducing food waste has been in my mind a lot since reading Matt Evans’ fabulous new book, On Eating Meat. In it, I read that if you took all the greenhouse gas emissions from all the food waste in the world, it would be the third-largest country in the world, after China and the US. Horrifying.
I know, realistically, that taking some beets and turning them into a cake isn’t going to achieve much, but it’s the spirit of the thing – of caring about waste, and being respectful of the produce I use.
And to extend this mood for recycling everything, the recycled cookbook I was looking at is about using leftovers.
River Cottage: Love Your Leftovers is a 2015 book from the indefatigable and ever earthy Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The first recipe that caught my eye used leftover roasted roots, in this case beetroots. Which I happened to have on hand.
The recipe is simplicity itself, and it’s delicious. Not too sweet, a touch of that earthy beet flavour and the perfect pairing of caraway seeds.
I imagine it would be good with leftover sweets potato or carrots or pumpkin (not a root, but still).
Beetroot and caraway seed cake
• 100g cooked beetroot
• 3tbs milk
• 50g ground almonds
• 1 1/2tsp caraway seeds
Chop or grate the beetroot and blend with the milk. A stick mixer will do. Mix in the almonds and seeds.
• 150g softened butter
• 150g caster sugar (I used raw)
• 3 eggs
• 150g self-raising flour
Cream butter and sugar til soft. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour.
Fold in the beetroot mix. From a comparison of my cake and the picture in the book, I clearly didn’t do a thorough job of mixing in the beetroot, but seeing the finished product, that worked just fine for me.
Put the mix in a small tin lined with baking paper. Cook at 160C (I cooked at 165C because my oven often seems a bit under) for 55-60 minutes. (I cooked for 55).
The recipe suggested sprinkling sugar on top before putting in the oven, but I didn’t.
Let it sit for a few minutes before you remove from the tin.