Garlicky kale and balsamic roasted beetroot

October 18, 2010

Our local producers have kept us in courgettes, aubergines, basil and tomatoes over the summer months and beyond and now it’s more traditional Irish varieties that are starting to come through – we’ve already had gorgeous savoy cabbage a few weeks back from the Healy’s in Wicklow and this week it’s Cavalo Nero kale (my fav kind) and beetroot harvested fresh from their farm for us. It’s been a while since we’ve seen these guys so I thought I’d start with some simple ideas. Kale as you know is a green (duh!!) and as such is just bursting with all kinds of good stuff. It does however require a little bit more cooking than say, spinach but you can pan-fry it in a few minutes. I love it with lots of garlic and some chilli. This simple dish is tasty enough to eat  piled on toast (sour dough would really rock) or try it with a poached egg. With a bowl of  cheesy mash would be the ultimate comfort dinner if you’re planning on vegging out this evening….
Garlicky Kale with chilli

 You’ll need:

 A bunch of kale

5-6 cloves garlic roughly chopped

Olive Oil

Some fresh chilli finely chopped – leave out the seeds if you don’t like things too hot

Maldon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Begin by washing the kale and trimming the tougher end of the stalks. You don’t really need to cut more than an inch or so as it’s pretty tender. Roughly chop the rest and set aside. Heat some olive oil in a pan or wok and throw in the garlic and chilli. Toss until the garlic starts to soften then throw in the kale. Keep everything moving until the kale has wilted then take off the heat. Serve immediately and feel healthier already…

This week we’ve got beetroot that comes attached to its leaves. Don’t chop them off and definitely don’t throw them away. They are actually more nutritious than the roots with lots of folate (folic acid), calcium, iron and caratenoids which function as antioxidants. Treat like them spinach – steam them then finish off with a knob of butter or stir-fry with garlic and chilli. As for the beetroot itself, it has exceptionally high levels of potassium which regulates the heartbeat and maintains normal blood pressure and nerve function, folic acid for cell division, vitamin C a great antioxidant and B6 which keeps our immune and nervous systems healthy. And if all that wasn’t enough this vegetable has long been famed for stimulating the immune system, cleansing/detoxing the blood and our digestive system and acting as a fantastic tonic if you’re under the weather.
Tastewise, beetroot works very well with things like apple, lemon and orange, parsley, potatoes, bacon, sour cream, crème fraiche and walnuts. In a salad it is sensational with walnut oil is and it also goes especially well with sherry, balsamic and white wine vinegars.
You can cook beetroot by either boiling and/or roasting it. Roasting allows the sugars to caramelize and gives a lovely dimension especially if you add a splash of balsamic towards the end. After that eat straight up with maybe a drizzle of olive oil or add to salads…
Balsamic roasted beetroot

You’ll need:

 4-5 heads of beetroot
Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Scrub your beetroot well but don’t trim them – of course detach the leaves but don’t break the skin of the heads by trying to cut back any roots as this will make the lovely colour leech out when you cook them. Now, boil the beetroot until cooked. Cooking time will vary according to size but about  30 minutes should do it. The beetroot is cooked when you can pierce the flesh with a knife. Drain and leave under running water while you rub off the skin with your fingers. If this proves tricky you can just peel them with a knife. Trim any of the tough bits then quarter each head. Put on a tray with some Olive Oil and ensure each piece is coated in the oil (hands are best for this). Place in a hot oven (200 degrees or Gas mark 6) and roast until the pieces start to crisp and caramelise. Add 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and toss with the beetroot. Return to the oven and roast for a further 5-10 minutes.
Want to go further? Some of the most popular posts on this blog are for beetroot dishes. Check these links if you’d like to give them a go..
Honey and balsamic roasted beetroot with puy lentils and feta
Roasted with parsnips and served with cous cous and baked goat’s cheese
A salad with beetroot, feta, walnuts and lambs lettuce

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