December is well and truly here, and as promised in my last recipe – a mere tentative nod to the festive season – here’s a savoury morsel to take us right into the flavours, colours and fragrances of winter.
This Orange & Fennel-Roasted Beetroot is both the perfect Christmas dinner side and the centrepiece of a great winter salad (which, of course, can also feature on your holiday table, because look how pretty it is).
As well as looking absolutely festive, gorgeous and inviting at the dinner table, these beets taste of all the things we love about this time of year. They’re:
- zingy with citrus;
- aniseedy – but not overwhelmingly so; and
- just on the right side of hot, with a little chilli to cut through the caramelised sweetness.
I absolutely love how the orange pieces soak up the flavours of the pan, but more importantly, take on little flecks and tide-lines of the beautiful red dye of the beetroot. A welcome burst of colour on an otherwise beige roast dinner table.
And, as deliciously wonderful as this dish is with all the trimmings, these beetroot delights work wonders in a warm salad. Seriously – this is something I’d quite happily pay for in a lovely little café for lunch with a glass of something fresh and bubbly. But I digress. All you need to do is serve it up with some rocket, roasted or boiled new potatoes and a sprinkling of vegan parmesan and you have something really yummy that took next to no effort to make.
Beets really are good for you, too. Full of great stuff like folic acid, fibre and potassium, they’re also thought to be good for liver detoxification and high blood pressure, which might come in handy around the festive period! The Romans even considered beetroot an aphrodisiac…
This recipe (alongside a few other Christmas trial dishes, which you might have seen over on Instagram) was graciously road-tested by both Dan my sister Faye – a veritable lifelong beetroot connoisseur who has definite opinions when it comes to this humble red root. So I was totally relieved when she gave it the thumbs up and recommended it for a Christmas recipe post, so here it is. More often than not, The Whole Ingredient really is a family affair!
I think this is a great Christmas recipe to have up your sleeve. It can be prepared in under 10 minutes (and in advance), looks wonderful and it can pretty much be ignored once in the oven. Just try not to get the beetroot juice up your sleeve too. (And if you do, lemon juice works a treat.)
What sides are going to make it onto your festive table?
- 4 beetroot (about 450g)
- 1 orange (organic or unwaxed)
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
- Top, tail and peel the beetroot, cut into segments and place in a roasting tin.
- Cut the orange in half. Squeeze half of the juice onto the beetroot and slice the other half, cutting the slices into smaller pieces. Put these aside.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the beetroot tin and stir/toss to coat the beetroot in all the lovely juices.
- Cook on the middle shelf for 20 minutes, stirring once. After 20 minutes add the orange pieces to the tin and return for another 10 minutes.
- Serve as is, or leave to cool slightly and toss with fresh leaves and your favourite salad ingredients!