I came across this idea in the food magazine that comes free with the Guardian, by the inimitable and rather wonderful Nigel Slater. I was at my girlfriends house for the weekend, where she helpfully leaves the Guardian magazines in the bathroom for my bathtime viewing pleasure, and scrawled the idea of a whole roasted beetroot in my little blue notebook, where I promptly forgot all about it. A few weeks later, resplendently fat stubby beetroots from the greengrocer in hand, I made these, and they were every bit as perfect as I imagined them to be. Offset the deep earthy flavour with a dollop of something light and creamy; I opted for a coconut yoghurt based tzatziki, but for the non-vegans among us, cottage cheese, or a pile of creamy white beans, or ordinary tzatziki would do. Of course, the traditional jacket potato toppings also work well here; cheese, beans, chilli, or whatever takes your fancy.
Serves 1 – easy to double or triple or whatever-you-fancy
1 hefty beetroot, 40p (£1.65/500g)
A pinch of salt, 1p (45p/750g, Sainsburys Basics table salt)
2 tbsp light cooking oil, 3p (£3/3l, Sainsburys vegetable or sunflower oil)
For the tzatziki: (36p)
100g yoghurt, 20p (£1/500g, Alpro soya or coconut yoghurt)
2 inches of cucumber, 7p (45p/cucumber, Sainsburys)
1 clove of garlic, 2p (35p/2 bulbs of garlic, Sainsburys Basics)
A small handful fresh herbs, 4p (80p/28g, Sainsburys)
A pinch of salt and pepper, 1p (45p/750g, Sainsburys Basics table salt)
1 tsp lemon juice, 2p (60p/250ml, Sainsburys)
First take your beertroot in hand and carefully slice off the rough and knobbly bottom, and the beetroot tops. If you are lucky enough to have your beetroot tops intact, the large leafy greens and crunchy stalks that come with greengrocers beets, set them to one side to use in the same way that you would use spinach or spring greens – in soups, stews, curries, or lightly cooked with a little salt and butter. Now, back to the beetroot.
Turn your oven on to 220C. Gently prick the beetroot all over with a small sharp knife, a fork or a skewer, as deep as you can go, and around 20 times, turning it gently as you do so. You may want to pop it in a piece of kitchen towel to stop the juices from seeping into your hands and giving you a case of the Lady Macbeths, but if you do stain your skin, rinse it quickly and rub any ingrained stains with a little bottled lemon juice to lift them out.
Pop the beetroot on a baking tray and baste with a little oil. Sprinkle with salt and cook for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 180C and cook for a further hour, until soft when pricked with a fork.
Meanwhile, make your tzatziki. Finely chop your cucumber, garlic clove and herbs and pop them into a bowl. Add the salt and pepper and lemon juice, and the yoghurt, and stir well. Chill in the fridge until required; the dip, not you.
When the beetroot is soft, remove from the oven and quarter as you would a jacket potato. Carefully scrape out the flesh and mash with a fork, using a little of the tzatziki to soften it, before returning it to its earthy shell. Top with remaining tzatziki and herbs, and enjoy.
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