Karma really does have a sense of humour. Every time I get a bit too puffed up with smug smallholding pride, out comes her little pin ready to deflate me. We had some friends from London visiting this weekend and amongst the other home-grown delights we planned to serve them I thought we could throw in some beetroots. They were some of the first vegetables to appear in the new kitchen garden and I was mainly growing a pretty patterned variety called Chioggia. “Right”, I thought smugly, “sophisticated nibbles it is”. Not for us the boring, slightly vulgar kettle crisp. Begone raw nuts and dips. No, our guests would much away on carefully cut and cooked, home grown beetroot crisps. “I made them”, I’d reply casually when they begged to know from whence came these life-changing savoury snacks . “Oh, it’s nothing really” I’d trill modestly with a light laugh before wafting around the table on a whole CLOUD of smug to top up drinks. The sun would be shining, birds would be singing, I might even be wearing a flowery dress. So far, so ludicrous and smug, smug, smug. The whole thing actually started quite well. Our eldest and I went and pulled up a load of beetroots, pausing on our way back to the house to toss the leafy tops (complete with ENORMOUS caterpillars) to our very grateful hens. Then we went back to the house and cut what looked like picture perfect slices and popped them into the oven to dry. About two hours later I was suddenly struck by the idea that I could smell burning. Worried that the washing machine might be suffering some electrical fault, I ran to the kitchen and suddenly realised that the beets were still in the oven. How the mighty are fallen. Our beautiful rounds were tiny bits of charcoal and there was no time to remake them. Woe!Still, the idea was a good one so if you have a decent working timer, here’s how you make them:
Beetroots sliced very thinly (think a millimetre or two, ideally with a mandolin)
Olive or rape seed oil
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.
- Peel and then slice the beets very thinly, ensuring they’re all the same thickness
- Lightly oil a couple of baking sheets and spread the slices out
- Roast for 25 minutes (check to see how they’re doing after 20 as timing will depend upon your oven as well as slice thickness)
- Remove from oven and salt the slices as you leave them to dry