January 13th, 2022
Happy new year to you all! I hope you managed some time off to enjoy the festivities with friends and family. It was a short break for me as my cookbook edits are already coming in. This is where I work closely with a word magician (editor) to ensure the recipes are easy to read and follow. Which essentially means reading through the full manuscript (80K+ words!) in a short period of time. Although time-consuming, it is also a rewarding process as the book is no longer only in my hands (and head) but being gently checked and tweaked by another.
Today I share my appreciation for sweet and earthy beetroot. When it is in season and at a reasonable price it is a regular in my shopping basket (or harvest basket when I can be patient enough to let them grow to a decent size). Beetroot is super versatile and can be used for both sweet and savoury recipes. I rarely make a chocolate cake without adding beetroot, as it complements the cocoa and delivers sweetness. In savoury dishes, beetroot can be used raw, boiled or roasted. The latter option is my preferred choice for a sweet flavour and smooth texture.
Whole roasted beetroot is the way to go. Although they take some time to cook, I tend to cook them at the same time as baking bread or roasting a chicken to make the most of the oven heat. The result is sweet, smooth-textured cooked beetroot that can be cut into wedges and drizzled with olive oil for a simple side to a meal, or added to a lentil salad as I share below.
To roast whole beetroot
Place 3-4 medium-sized (about 150-180g each) beetroot into a lidded oven dish. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and 1-2 tbsp water. Cover and place into a 200ºC oven. Cook for 50-60 minutes until tender when pierced with a small knife. Cool completely, then remove the skins. Store the whole beetroot in a lidded container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Slice or grate as needed.
Roast Beetroot & Lentil Salad
- ½ cup dried brown or green lentils or use 400g can brown lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 roasted beetroot -see above, peeled and cut into thin wedges
- handful parsley, roughly chopped
- 100 g feta
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Prepare the lentils ahead of time. I highly recommend pre-soaking dried lentils for 5-6 hours before cooking to reduce their reputable gassiness. Cover with 3 times the volume of water and leave to soak. Drain well then place into a saucepan with the bay leaf, drizzle of olive oil and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until tender. Remove from the heat, add the ½ tsp salt and leave to cool in the salted water. Alternatively, open a can of lentils and drain ready to prepare the salad.
- In a shallow salad bowl measure the vinegar, mustard and honey. Season well and use the back of a spoon to mix together. Keep stirring in this fashion as you drizzle in the olive oil to create a thick emulsified dressing.
- Add the sliced onions and toss them together to coat and soften the onions. Drain the cooked lentils then add to the salad bowl with the sliced beetroot and parsley. Toss to combine. Break the feta into shards and dot over the salad.
- This makes a great salad to serve at a barbecue or alongside a summer vegetable quiche.