The nights are drawing in, and comfort food is increasingly on the table at our little cottage. With the colder, blustery weather & shorter days I felt the need to create a little extra home coziness in the form of savoury, carby potatoes paired with beetroot.
The beetroot was gifted to us by a neighbour Debbie, who had a glut from her allotment and to create something delicious from a neighbourly offering is incredibly soothing. Generosity and kindness from friends as well as nourishing good food can really help restore your sense of wellbeing, as can sharing food cooked, passing on the sentiment so others can share too.
The colours of this dish are rather glorious, the white of the potato gently mingling with the deep ruby of the beetroot, turning blushing pink once ladled out onto a plate. In fact, it’s so pretty, I would urge you to consider this as an alternative accompiament to the traditional roast potatoes at Christmas ( or Thanksgiving for my American friends). It certainly looks festive enough!
The trick is a long slow bake, for at least 45 mins with a little lid over the casserole dish made of foil, then, test to see if the potatoes are tender ( if they are not, put them back in the oven for another 10 mins) before removing the lid & cooking for another 25 mins to create a sort of crustyness on top.
There are various ways you can layer the thin slices of beet & potato, you could even chuck them in haphazardly, but for a really pretty dish, I decided to stand them up, starting the layers at a slight angle, then as the dish filled, pushing them all up to be vertical, wedging in extra slices here and there to fill any gaps, then tucking in sage leaves around for both colour & flavour.
*confession.. I forgot to put the onion in initially, remembering about 20mins after putting the dish in the oven.. so I sliced it finely, pulled the dish out, and slid the slices in randomly, before returning it to the oven.
We ate a simple dish of lentils cooked with the beet tops to as part of our meal, and they complemented each other perfectly. The deep savoury flavour of the lentils works really well with the earthy sweet redness of the beetroots. You can find instructions on how to make a lentil bowl here.
- 3 medium-large beetroots , peeled( about the size of a small orange)
- Same quantity of potatoes , peeled (I had 6 small ones from my garden)
- 1 medium onion , halved then sliced
- 4-5 sprigs thyme
- 7-8 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tspns marigold stock powder
- 2/3 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup white wine (optional- sub in more water if not using)
- 1 Tbs Olive Oil
- salt & pepper to taste
Thinly slice the beetroots & potatoes. You want each slice to be around 5ml thick. You also want them all to be roughly the same size, so cut any huge pieces in half so that there is a flat edge.
Slick the olive oil over a casserole dish. The one I used is around 25 x 25cm and happens to be square, but a similar size round or oval dish will do just as well.
Layer the slices, I like how it looks with them all standing up in stripy rows. If you choose to lay the slices down flat, make sure the overall layers don't exceed around 5cm or it might take forever to cook through.
Mix the thyme leaves, stock powder, white wine and water together, and add a little salt & pepper.
Pour the stock mix over the layered beets & potatoes.
Tuck the sage leaves in and around here and there.
Squish a bit of foil over the lot as a sort of 'lid' to help keep the steam in & accellerate the cooking process.
Pop in a moderate oven (Gas mark 7, 220C) for 40- 45 mins.
Then, check to see if the potatoes are tender ( no one wants potatoes that bite back!)
If they are not quite done, put back in the oven for 10 mins.
Then, take the foil lid off, and put back in the oven to crisp up the top and create that baked potatoey crispness that is just so delicious. 15 - 20 mins should do it.
Serve as a glorious side dish, or as a beautiful main event with some tasty accompanying sides.
Beware! This is super hot when it comes out of the oven. Leave it to 'rest' for 10 mins, the flavours will develop and you won't burn your mouth.
This is also brilliant as left overs. It becomes even more squidgily delicious.