Beetroot Carpaccio

I have written about phytochemicals before, when I was extolling the virtues of the humble onion in the Caramelised Onion and Feta Pie.

Phytochemicals are a wide array of chemicals produced by plants, often for their own protection and by eating the plants we can even gain some benefits. Yes, there are some phytochemicals that aren’t so beneficial, such as phytate which is found in legumes, nuts and grains. Phytate inhibits iron absorption, but how you prepare your food – cooking, soaking and fermenting – can reduce the effect.

Beetroot carpaccio

However, there are loads of highly beneficial phytochemicals to be found in fruits and vegetables and the more colourful the better! Beta-carotene, lycopene and anthocyanins are just some of the phytochemicals we eat.

With phytate, cooking can reduce its negative effect. However, for some other phytochemicals heating actually makes it easier to absorb them so increases the beneficial effect. Carrots and tomatoes are two vegetables that this works for – respectively increasing beta-carotene and lycopene.

Here are some examples of a wonderful range of rainbow colours to indulge in:

  • Red: tomato, red capsicum, watermelon, strawberries.
  • Orange & yellow: carrot, pumpkin, golden kumara, apricots, yellow capsicum.
  • Green: broccoli, spinach, lettuce, silverbeet, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, herbs.
  • Blue & purple: blueberries, blackberries, plums, grapes, red onion, radishes, beetroot.

Let’s eat the rainbow with this simple and tasty burst of colour!


1 – 2 beetroot, trimmed and peeled

1 radish

1 Tbsp. chopped chives

Herbs – salad burnet, parsley or mint

1 – 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 – 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper


Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, thinly slice the beetroot and radish.

Arrange the beetroot slices on a serving platter or individual plates. Scatter over the radish slices, chives and herbs.

Dress with the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Grind over a little black pepper.

Note: you can use either raw or cooked beetroot.