Beet balls are not only luminously purple, but they are nicely dense and packed with flavour from the toasted walnuts and herbs, which pair beautifully with the earthy beetroot. They’re perfect on top of courgetti (zoodles).
This post first appeared in my monthly column in Vegetarian Living magazine (July 2016).
If you haven’t noticed, I love vegetables. Forget 5-a-day, I’m more likely to eat 10-a-day. Cooked, raw, baked into a cake… I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like (well, maybe okra) and I’m more likely to snack at the veg drawer rather than the fruit bowl.
I love them so much that I based my blog around them. By the time people absorb the fact that I bake kale cake and grate carrot into my porridge, usually the next thing they ask is if I grow vegetables. This is where I sheepishly have to admit that my love of vegetables doesn’t extend to growing them myself. I’ve tried, oh I’ve tried! But rarely have I been able to harvest the fruits of my labour.
I lived on a boat in London for many years and I tried to grow courgettes. I planted big boxes of them on the roof of the boat and tried to remember to water them. Courgettes are one of those plants that many people start growing vegetables with. They grow quickly, easily and don’t take too much work. Unless you’re me. They fail to grow, get diseased and barely produce any veg. The fact that mine were nibbled by swans still doesn’t hide the fact that I’m distinctly not green-fingered.
Now that I live on land and have a garden, I keep having similar gardening failures. But I won’t give up *raises trowel in the air in defiance*. One day I’ll rip courgettes from my own garden, wash them off and spiralise them right onto my plate. One day.
I’m definitely a fan of spiralising. There’s good reason that this trend for turning vegetables into spaghetti-like ribbons is still raging on. It means you can have a lighter meal with less carbs, get more vegetables into your diet and use up vegetables. You can spiralise anything from beetroot and squash, to apples and carrots. It’s a nice way of adding texture and veg to salads.
Courgetti can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. It only needs to be boiled or steamed for a minute or two to warm it without turning it to mush, or you could heat it in a frying pan. It’s a lovely green base for these vibrant beet balls.
Save our Scraps
Courgette flowers can be filled with soft cheese and baked
Courgette is fantastic baked into a cake, particularly with chunks of dark chocolate.
Courgette can be sliced, blanched and frozen.
Slice courgettes thinly and use in lasagne in place of all or some pasta sheets.
Beetroot is lovely grated raw with apples into a salad
Beetroot also pairs well with chocolate, so try them together in a cake
Don’t bin the beet stems, they’re lovely quick-pickled in vinegar or snipped into a salad
Beetroot greens are perfect for pesto, salad, or sauteed with oil and garlic as a quick side dish
Courgetti and Beet Balls
The courgetti is a fantastic vehicle for the fragrant pesto, and the beet balls are not only luminously purple, but they are nicely dense and packed with flavour from the toasted walnuts and herbs, which pair beautifully with the earthy beetroot. You can make the beet balls ahead of time and heat them through before serving. The recipe also makes quite a few beet balls, so you can freeze them for another meal.
- For the beet balls
- 2 raw beetroots, washed (approx 300g)
- 50g (½ cup) walnuts
- 1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 30g (½ cup) breadcrumbs
- ½ red onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- To serve:
- 3-4 courgettes (zucchini)
- 3-4 teaspoons green pesto (look out for vegetarian or vegan if required)
- Heat oven to 200C/400F and grease a baking tray with oil.
- Peel the beetroots and slice into chunks. Whiz in a food processor or mini chopper until fine. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- In a dry frying pan, toast the walnuts for a few minutes until lightly golden. Add the walnuts and kidney beans to the food processor (no need to clean after the beets) and pulse once or twice until crumbly.
- Add the walnut bean mixture, bread crumbs, chopped onion, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to the bowl of beetroot and combine well, you’ll need to use your hands. Squish the mixture well so that it sticks together. Roll into balls and place onto the baking tray.
- Bake the beet balls for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through.
- For the courgetti (zoodles):
- Courgetti can be eaten raw or cooked. Spiralise the courgettes (zucchini) in a hand-held or freestanding spiraliser. If cooking, blanch the courgetti for a minute or so in a pan of boiling water until hot, then drain. Gently toss the courgetti in the pesto then divide onto plates and top with the beet balls. Serve immediately.