This is a great two for one - Beetroot is a great veg which, like turnip, can be harvested for leaves and the root.
The notion that beetroot takes hours to cook is an exaggeration.
Small summer beets need about 20 minutes.
Large late season beets take correspondingly longer, but only 10 -15 minutes.
Simply by dicing them and fast boiling in a little salty water cooks them in no time at all - yes they will bleed, but after 15 minutes they will be as tender and beetrooty as you wish, with all the colour and flavour.
Combining beetroot with fennel and lemon in this dish gives great contrast and taste.
It's a great, cool, fresh
The use of Carragheen or Agar-Agar with veg stock makes this suitable for vegetarians but you can if you wish of course use meat stock and gelatin - but I prefer the freshness of the veg stock and seaweed combo.
This is served normally served with a little sour cream - but I find a simple sweet spinach raita to balance the earthy sweetness of the beetroot - or a standard cucumber, chive, mint and yogurt raita, the classic Indian condiment.
for the timbale:
175g cooked beetroot (retain the leaves)
1/2 Tsp or more of Fennel seeds
1 tsp of squeezed lemon
Good sprig carragheen.
* When I say veg stock, do use the cooking liquid of the beetroot as a base and make up a simple stock.
For the Raita:
200ml / 7fl oz. Glenisk natural yogurt
About 15 small spinach leaves
12-15 raisins - roughly chopped
Pinch of Paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.
FOR THE RAITA
Cut the spinach into fine strips
Blanch in boiling water
Drain and whisk into the yogurt
Add the raisins, seasonings and spices and mix in well
FOR THE TIMBALE
Bruise the fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon to release their full aroma and steep in the stock.
Add the carragheen and bring slowly to the boil
Reduce and simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes stirring now and again.
Strain off the liquid and season with a little salt and a good belt of pepper.
Add the lemon juice to taste.
You now have a liquid gel, so be fairly quick.
Bear in mind the earthy sweetness and lemon sharpness are muted by chilling.
Ideally you will need 4 small ramekins or wide mouth glass' to prep this.
You could also use a muffin tray or something similar.
Pour in a little of the liquid gel to cover the base of each mold.
Peel and dice the cooked beetroot if you have not done so already.
Divide the diced beetroot between the molds, mixing in the rest of the liquid gel as you do.
Chill for about 2 hours or until the gel is set.
Loosen the beetroot timbales by dipping their molds into hot water and turn out carefully.
Place onto serving plates, and put a little raita on the plate, or use a bowl with a serving spoon to share - I have always felt it really adds to the enjoyment of any meal to share.
Arrange a little salad around the edge of the plate - peppery watercress or slices of buttery avocado are my favorites but best of all are the leaves of the beetroot around the edge of the plate.
Comments are, as always, most welcome