Sweet and earthy -- the beautiful crimson beetroot is lovely both raw and cooked. It's got a strong flavor with an attitude, which matches perfectly with other blunt flavors like acidic and salty. I, however, hate cooking with beetroot normally as it paints the house red. As pretty as it is, my hands look like the end of a murder scene after peeling a beetroot.
I usually like pairing beetroot with very salty things -- capers, anchovies and goat's cheese. Its sweetness counterbalances and mellows out the harsh saltiness. You can make a really nice dip with some roasted beetroot mashed up together with crumbled goat's cheese. Or serve a salad with some anchovies, capers and sliced beetroot over some fresh greens.
I first encountered a savory dish with vanilla on an episode of Masterchef. A contestant brilliantly paired together vanilla and langoustines. Vanilla had been very much tied to my sweet tooh -- chocolate cake with a tsp of vanilla, panna cotta with a tsp of vanilla, creme caramel with a tsp of vanilla. I add vanilla to every sweet imaginable. After that exciting episode of Masterchef I started doing some research and here are just some suggestions as to how you can add your tsp of vanilla into your main courses:
- Vanilla works well with seafood: put it in a fish stew
- Vanilla + Olive oil + parmesan + pasta
- Make a rub for some sort of meat: mix vanilla with onions, garlic and other spices like allspice and cinnamon and rub it over some lamb chops
- Mix with saffron for a nice risotto
- Savory vanilla omelet on toast with butter
- Use it to make a salad dressing
And here's how to make a light summer beetroot and vanilla soup, wonderfully served hot or cold.
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium uncooked beetroots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
500ml vegetable stock
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp honey
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tsp vanilla extract
toasted sliced almonds
Beet leaf chips
Tear the beet leaves and coat them in a bit of oil and salt. Put in a preheated oven of 200 for about 5 minutes or until hardened.
Fry the onions and garlic until softened and translucent, then add the beetroot and fry for an additional minute. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the beets are softened. Put it in a food processor and puree everything. Add all the other ingredients and season. Serve with toasted almonds and beet leaf chips