Almost without trying, we grew some beetroot. We bought a packet of Unwins Gourmet Mix from the garden centre, sprinkled them into the soil and, apart from a bit of watering, pretty much left them to it.
And look what they produced: stunning colourful orbs that tasted as good as they looked.
Their characteristic earthy flavour had a delicious sweetness. We immediately grated one of the white ones raw into a salad. Wonderful!
Even the leaves, which were vibrant and lush, looked really edible. So we thought we’d try them.
You can eat beetroot leaves raw or treat them as you would spinach.
I decided to cook them and serve them with spaghetti. Here’s what I did. It’s a bit of a store cupboard recipe, using things I happened to have in.
Andrew had removed the leaves from the beetroot a couple of days ago. Apparently, this is best done by tearing the stalks off rather than cutting them.
He cleaned the leaves and put them in the fridge in a plastic bag.
I started by cutting the leaves from the stalks. I chopped the stalks into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces, and cut the leaves into 2cm strips.
I put 3 tbsp of oil in a pan. This was a mixture of the flavoured oil left over from a jar of sundried tomatoes and rapeseed oil.
I added 3 cloves of crushed garlic and a large pinch of chilli flakes.
At the same time, I put spaghetti on to boil, remembering to add plenty of salt to the water. It is said that pasta water should be as salty as the Mediterranean.
The leaves wilted in no time, and I gave them the occasional stir so they cooked evenly.
Just as the leaves were looking like they were ready, so was the spaghetti.
I tipped the spaghetti into the pan with the beetroot leaves, then added 50g (just under 2 ounces) of Parmesan (you could use a vegetarian alternative) and the juice of the other half of the lemon.
As it happened, I didn’t feel I needed the pasta water because of the amount of liquid that the lemon added.
I checked the seasoning, then placed the food into serving bowls. Finally, I sprinkled over a little more Parmesan, black pepper and a scattering of pine nuts just before serving.
Even if I say so myself, this was amazing. Next time, I might just toast the pine nuts. But apart from that, I think I nailed it.
A large bunch of beetroot leaves – say 400-500g. Or you could use spinach.
3 tbsp olive/rape seed oil
3 garlic cloves
Large pinch of chilli flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
50g Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative)
Handful of pine nuts
Do you have a recipe recommendation?
If you have a favourite way of eating beetroot leaves, please let us know. We’d love to try it!