Vanessa Pike-Russell 

Watching tonight's Junior Masterchef 'Mystery Box Challenge' was really enjoyable. One of the ingredients was beetroot. One of my all-time favourite vegetables. There is a photo somewhere of me eating beetroot slices by a waterfall-fed river near Eden in the Eurobodalla region as a five year old. It is one of the things I love to cook with and eat and surprise people at how versatile this root vegetable can be.

One of my favourite recipes that features beetroot is Borscht. Something that has gone out of fashion but in the 70s was THE dinner party favourite amongst my Mother and her friends. I remember the first I tasted this recipe - served cold. It was quite a taste sensation for an eight year old who had always assumed soups would be hot, or at least warm. Get out your 70s cookbooks (or google for a recipe) and give it a try yourself. Perfect for these balmy spring nights and a great appetiser.

If your children hate beetroot give them a fresh view on it with these delicious Beetroot chips. If you are having trouble convincing them to give them a try offer a sweet chilli dipping sauce made with Greek Yoghurt. Trust me - they will love it!

For a gourmand try these Crumbed Mushrooms with Roasted beetroot cubes and avocado salad that I enjoyed at the Ocean Beach Hotel and re-acquainted me with my love of beetroot. The smokey flavour from roasting helped tease out the sweetness and crispy texture had beetroot haters salivating.

Roast Beetroot, Crumbed Mushrooms and Avocado Salad


3 eggs
4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (or gluten free rice crumbs)
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped chives
salt & ground black pepper
400g medium button mushrooms, stems trimmed
olive oil, for deep frying
4 beetroots, cubed
1 avocado, seeded and sliced thinly
150g rocket or baby spinach leaves (or other salad leaf)
balsamic vinegar

Roasted Beetroot Method:

1. In a large bowl, combine the cubed beets, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 tablespoon vinegar, salt and pepper.
2. Cubes should now be placed on baking paper, arranged in a single layer so that they cook evenly.  Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the edges have turned golden and the beetroot is tender.  Arrange in a circle around the crumbed mushroom and avocado salad as a garnish.

Crumbed Mushroom Method:

1. Whisk eggs until well combined in a shallow dish. Set aside.
2. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, chives,  salt and pepper in a separate shallow dish.
3. Dip mushrooms one at a time in the egg mix,  then coat in the breadcrumb and
cheese mixture, pressing the breadcrumbs on to secure. Repeat with
remaining mushrooms, egg and breadcrumb mixture.
3. In a hot oil, deep-fry the mushrooms, a few at a time, until crumbs are golden. Lower onto paper towel to drain away excess oil and place in the oven to keep warm whilst you repeat with the rest of the mushrooms.

Avocado Salad Method:
In a large bowl combine baby spinach, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and top with crumbed mushrooms and garnish with beetroot Tweet This
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