We have a bumper beetroot crop at the moment and although it’s easy to bottle, it’s also great doing new things with it. Freshly pulled, beetroot cooks more quickly than when shop bought, and is beautifully tender and sweet – another reason not to just pickle it. Besides being delicious roasted or simply added to a leafy green salad, here are two salads that have become firm favourites with us.
This first one is often requested by our friends, so I suppose it has become one of my “signature” dishes. The other is a new addition to the repertoire. More of that in a mo….
Beetroot and plum salad
The original recipe for this salad comes from Fruit & Veg City’s range of recipe books which I have adapted (Not that there’s an outlet anywhere near McGregor…). I’ve served it on a large platter for a buffet meal, and this Christmas, served it plated, as a starter – either way, the presentation is the same, just the scale varies – and it’s very attractive.
In terms of quantity, I usually work on one beetroot (cooked and sliced) and plum per person and then work the leaves and other bits accordingly. Make sure that you select beetroot of similar sizes so that when you assemble your plate or platter, you don’t get all balled up because things don’t look right.
The salad consists of fresh plums, pitted and quartered, red onions, thinly sliced (or chopped spring onion leaves), all marinated, in a lemony vinaigrette for about an hour.
To assemble: if you’re using a platter, place a circle of overlapping slices of beetroot around the edge and then pile salad leaves in the centre (the original recipe says baby spinach), top with the plums, reserving some of the marinade, and sprinkle crumbled feta over these and then drizzle some of the remaining marinade over the plate.
Rocket, beetroot and goat’s cheese salad
We recently went to see the magnificent gardens at Babylonstoren. There is also a restaurant, Babel. The menu is based on seasonal fare with much of the produce from the garden and surrounding area. Although we didn’t eat there, we did get the book about the garden and its produce, and also some of the recipes they use. The approach is interesting, in that it talks about a particular vegetable, and what other ingredients compliment it. On the way home from our visit, we also passed Fairview and had bought some of their fabulous goat’s cheese.
So given both the glut of beetroot and my reluctance to use rocket (which, I think can be overpowering), I gave one of the combinations suggested a bash – beetroot, rocket and goat’s cheese. This is what I came up with: Beetroot on a bed of rocket, with slices of black pepper chevin, drizzled with lemon and parsley pesto.
It was delicious – the sweet beetroot is a fantastic counter to the peppery harshness of the rocket and the textures work beautifully.
And then, there’s more…
Remember that if you’re growing your own beetroot, the leaves are a wonderful addition to salads and stir fries. The flavour is rather earthy, like spinach, and young leaves add lovely colour variations.