Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Beetroot Salads

My earliest childhood memory of beetroot is seeing the creamy pink, ring gelatine moulds that brought life to the tressle tables at the church bazaar. At four, I remember being captivated by this intensely pink vegetable and liking it instinctively. Many years have past and my love of beetroot hasn’t waned, so much so that I dreamt up this lentil and caramelised beetroot recipe as the starter on my wedding menu.

Bright pink beetroot pancakes, rich beetroot and chocolate cake… The colour and flavour of beetroot adds playfulness to any dish. It can be prepared in a variety of ways, making it enjoyable to experiment with. Apart from that, this sweet-tasting root is rich in folic acid and potassium, as well as having detoxifying properties. If you buy beetroot with the leaves on, chop them roughly and add them to your salad; they are as rich in iron and vitamin C as spinach leaves.

Here are two innovative beetroot salad recipes that are sure to give any lunch or dinner party that wow- factor.

Lentil and Caramelised Beetroot Salad with crème fraiche dressing
(Makes 4 portions)

2 cups of uncooked green/brown lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
4-6 beetroots
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
250 ml crème fraiche
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
150-200g mixed lettuce leaves
Small bunch dill leaves/chives

Wash the beetroot well under running water. Bring salted water to the boil in a pot, add the beetroot and boil until they are tender. Drain and allow them to cool. Gently peel the outer skin off with your hands and slice the beetroots into wedges.
Cover the lentils with water in a small pot. Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, adding water to cover the lentils, as needed. Boil until soft, and then drain. While hot, drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and ground black pepper.
To make the syrup, carefully melt the brown sugar on a medium heat. Add the balsamic vinegar and the spices. Toss the beetroot wedges in the syrup on a low heat until the beetroots are coated and sticky. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool in the syrup.
Wash the leaves and toss them in a light olive oil. Finely chop the dill or the chives and mix this and the lemon juice into the crème fraiche.
To assemble the salad, place a bed of lentil on each plate. Drizzle the remaining balsamic reduction over the lentils. Arrange the beetroots and lettuce leaves on top with dollops of crème fraiche to serve.

Variations: Serve this salad with flaked, hot smoked salmon as a dinner starter or add orange segments for a fresh summer lunch.

For an absolute treat: peel the beets and chop them in quarters. Toss them in extra-virgin olive oil, a drizzle of runny honey and a dash of good quality balsamic vinegar with a few sprigs of thyme. Slowly roast the beetroot for 20-30 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius or until soft and caramelized. The result is smokey, sweet beetroot wedges to use in a salad or serve as a side dish

Beetroot ‘Carpaccio’ with seasonal greens
(Makes 4-6 salad portions)

4-6 medium sized beetroots
60 ml olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp basil pesto
Salt and milled black pepper
150-200 g mixed greens
Basil leaves for garnish
Onion sprouts


Boil the beetroot until tender but not soft, firm enough to thinly slice.
Allow them to cool and peel the outer skin off with your hands.
Thinly slice them on a mandolin or with a sharp knife and lay out on a plate.
To make the marinade, combine the vinegar, the olive oil and the pesto with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper.
Drizzle the marinade over the beetroot, cover and allow to infuse for a few hours in the fridge.
To serve, lay the beetroot out slightly overlapping on a plate and make a small salad in the middle. Drizzle the left over marinade over as a dressing.
Garnish with basil leaves and sprouts.

No comments:

Post a Comment