Beet leaf callaloo is a fragrant side dish that combines beet leaves with chilli and coconut milk, while the beet stems are quick pickled with rosemary to ensure no part of the beet goes to waste.
This recipe for Beet Leaf Callaloo first appeared in my monthly Taste Not Waste column for Vegetarian Living magazine.
We throw away a lot of food, don’t we? Whether it’s from food production, over-buying in the shops, poor storage or allotment gluts, far too much seems to end up hitting the bin.
At home I’m always looking for ways to make the most of the food I have. Meal planning and regularly reviewing the contents of the fridge and cupboards helps a lot to reduce food waste, but I also enjoy experimenting with using up the parts of plants that are often discarded.
Often, perfectly edible food ends up being thrown away or composted, but with a little creativity and know-how we can make meals out of food that would otherwise be unused. From pickling watermelon rinds to roasting cauliflower leaves with olive oil and herbs, keeping kitchen scraps from the scrapheap feels virtuous, plus it saves not only money but also precious resources.
Here are some ideas for getting the most out of those lovely vibrant purple beetroots that are in abundance now. We all know about great ways to eat the root: roasted slowly until caramelised, grated raw into a bright coleslaw and, of course, pickled. But there’s a lot more to beetroot, from root to leaf.
Save Our Scraps
Kale – Don’t throw away those woody stems, they can be turned into pesto or chopped up and sauteed with garlic, onion and herbs as a quick side dish.
Apple – Peelings can be frozen and used later in smoothies or to add flavour to porridge, cakes or soups.
Veg peelings – Keep any peelings in the freezer so that you can quickly make a batch of fresh stock with a variety of vegetable flavours. I like to keep a large jar in the fridge that I can keep topping up until I need it. Organic is best, and ensure you scrub the vegetables well before peeling.
Get the recipe for Beet Leaf Callaloo
I love making this easy callaloo. It’s packed with flavour but easy to make. If you don’t have any beet leaves, then just use chard, spinach of kale. I love it served with black eyed beans.
- 100g (2 large handfuls) raw beet leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (add more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ can coconut milk, stirred
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Steam or boil the beet leaves for a few minutes or until soft and wilted. Drain and run under cold water. Squeeze out any excess water using your hands, then chop the leaves.
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a low-medium heat, then cook the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, stirring often. Add the copped chilli and thyme, and cook for a further minute.
- Add the beetroot leaves and coconut milk and simmer on a medium heat for 5 minutes, until reduced slightly. Season and serve.
Get the recipe for Quick Pickled Beet Stems
- Stems from 8 beetroots (about 100g), washed and chopped into 2.5cm lengths
- 75ml (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar
- 75ml (1/3 cup) water
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
- 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch of black pepper
- Put the beet stems in a bowl or jar.
- In a pan, add the vinegar, water, sugar or honey, rosemary, salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Pour the hot liquid over the beetroot stems to cover. Let stand for at least 30 minutes.