Hardly any tuber is hipper than beetroot. It has become the favourite vegetable of high-end gastronomy the world
It has emancipated itself and left traditional forms of preparation firmly in the past. The beetroot is proof of how creative, complex and diverse a vegetable can be, and how it can be transformed into entirely unfamiliar textures and surprising and exciting flavour profiles. It is sometimes used as a cocoa-like powder, refreshing frozen pearls, or sweet and sour condiment. Strongly reduced, it unfolds a lot of umami as an intense vegan jus. Fermented, it can be a component of a sauce or a non-alcoholic drink. The trend toward vegetable charcuterie is equally exciting. Beetroot is fermented with koji, refined with spices and then slowly matured in the air, in a process similar to dried meat. The sweet, earthy-tasting beetroot with its fleshy texture can also be cooked in a very archaic way. Cooking it directly in the embers unveils wonderfully hearty, smoky aromas. It is particularly gentle and juicy when cooked in the oven, wrapped in a coat of salt. It tastes just as good raw or pickled. Acidity is perfect for balancing sweetness. Aceto Tradizionale, for example, gives it a mysterious elegance. The combination with blood oranges is almost congenial. In summer, it refreshes when sliced thinly as a carpaccio, with natural yoghurt and mint or as a colourful hummus with chickpeas and tahini. In winter, it is grandiose in soups or risotto. There are red, white and yellow beetroots. And last but very certainly not least, is the queen from the Veneto: the red and white curled Chioggia beetroot. It is so tender and finely aromatic that it is best eaten raw because its typical flamboyant rings, unfortunately, disappear when cooked. With such versatility, it is no wonder foodies are left with their hearts literally ‘beeting’ higher.
Words & Photo Claudio Del Principe
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