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Garden Guru: GIYing your own ingredients for hummus and beetroot burgers

Forget about the stuff you buy in tins. Fresh beetroot from the garden is much tastier and jam-packed with health-giving properties, writes Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Grower

THIS WEEK TWO things reminded me of how totally and completely I adore beetroot. First up, I finally harvested my winter “storage” crop of beets and was delighted to discover that I still have about 60 of them left which should last us another two months or so.

It’s a testament to the durability of this wonderful vegetable that it can keep for so long and a reminder of just how much of it can be grown in a relatively small space. I always aim to grow enough beetroot to supply us for the full year. It doesn’t always work, but with three well-timed sowings (I sow in January, April and July) you won’t be too far off.

Growing and harvesting

This crop was sown in module trays last July, planted out in a raised bed in the garden in August, and have been standing quite happily in the soil ever since.

Generally speaking you are better off to harvest beetroot when they are ready and then store them in a box of sand rather than leave them in the ground over the winter months. This year, however, thanks to my overall laziness and a relatively mild winter, the beets stayed put and are still in perfect nick.

Worried by the intense cold that is currently blighting our European neighbours and to help them to last until April (when hopefully the first polytunnel crop of new season beets will be ready), I decided to finally harvest them this week and store them in the garage.

Cooking with beetroot

At GROW HQ this week, beetroot has taken over from celeriac as our vegetable “hero” of the week. Each week our Head Chef JB Dubois and his kitchen team take a seasonal veg that we have a glut of, and cook it five different ways on a mezze plate. It’s a fantastic way for us to showcase seasonal veg and show people the different ways they can be served.

JB cooked a spiced beetroot burger (a meaty delight, just with no meat), a beetroot and smoked paprika soup, a white beetroot and yoghurt slaw, a roasted beetroot topped with Ardsallagh goat’s cheese and finally a little beetroot and cottage cheese bun.

It’s all a long way from the beetroot of my youth – always doused in pickling vinegar, a “recipe” that had more to do with preserving than flavour. The beetroot plate was a delicious reminder of just how versatile this wonderful veg can be in the kitchen.

Things to Do this week – Storing beetroot

  1. Harvest the beets and clean off most of the soil with your hands – don’t wash them. Remove the foliage. Twist off the leaves leaving an inch or two of stem attached. Don’t cut the stems – they will start to “bleed.” Sort through and remove any that are damaged to be used straight away in the kitchen.
  2. A bag of horticultural or play sand (available from any garden centre) will do the trick for storing root crops over the winter. Use a decent sized timber or plastic box (I used a wooden apple crate lined with newspaper). Put a small layer of sand in the base and then place the beets carefully on the sand so that they are not touching each other. Cover with another layer of sand. Repeat if necessary.
  3. If you haven’t grown your own beets this year but can find a good supplier of organic Irish beetroot, why not buy them in bulk and store them yourself? Work out how many you would eat in a given week and store up a few month’s supply. Your inner hunter-gatherer will thank you.

January at GROW HQ

Here in GIY, we don’t believe in giving things up for the New Year. Instead why not start an amazing habit or hobby instead? January is wellness month at GROW HQ and we’ve a range of classes and events covering everything from GIYing for beginners, meditation, vegan and vegetarian cooking, mindful eating, juicing, yoga for the seasons and a panel discussion on gut health.

Recipe of the week – Beetroot burgers

I love these delicious beetroot burgers from The Happy Pear boys, David and Stephen Flynn. They are great for a weekday dinner or even thrown into the kid’s lunchbox. I like a yoghurt dressing with them, but that’s just me. Recipe from their book “The Happy Pear”. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 400g uncooked beetroot
  • 4 spring onions
  • 80g mature cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 140g toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • Juice of half a lemon

For the topping

  • Hummus
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Parsley or chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 180/200 degrees. Scrub and grate the beetroot. Finely chop the spring onions. Crumble the feta and roughly chop the walnuts.

Heat the oil in the pan, and add the beetroot and spring onions. Cook for about 5 mins and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Put the beetroot mixture into a medium bowl with both the cheeses, mint, walnuts, breadcrumbs, and the lemon juice. Mix well using your hands. Add some black pepper and a pinch of salt. Form into burger shaped patties.

Place the patties on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 25 minutes, turning them halfway through. Top the burgers generously with hummus and serve with the alfalfa (or parsley) on top.

Michael Kelly is founder of GIY and GROW HQ

Click here for more GIY tips and recipes.

About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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