Just Beet-iful

22nd July 2011

The benefits of beetroot juice have long been recognised – but there are more ways to enjoy this delicious and healthy vegetable than just by drinking it. It’s astonishingly versatile, and with the right amount of cooked beetroot providing just the same health benefits as its juice, there’s no excuse not to enjoy it in starters, dips, salads, soups, main meals, desserts and more…

STARTERS
Xanthe Clay’s Beetroot-stained Smoked Salmon

Serves 2 as a starter.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 4-24 hours to stain the salmon
Cooking time: none

1x250g pack of vacuum packed beetroot, drained
12 chives
8-12 walnut halves
1tbsp walnut oil
½ tsp sherry vinegar
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
120g smoked salmon
2 tsp crème fraîche
2 sprigs of dill

1. Take one beetroot and slice it into thin rounds. Put the salmon on a plate (if it is already sliced, then remove the plastic sheets interleaving the pieces, but arrange the slices so that they are evenly overlapping). Grind over a little pepper and lay the beetroot over the top. Cover tightly with clingfilm and put a second plate on top to weigh it down. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours (at least 4 hours).

2. Cut the rest of the beetroot in half, then slice into half circles about as thick as a pound coin.

3. Slice the chives finely on the diagonal. Break the walnuts into three or four pieces each.

4. Mix the sliced beetroot halves, chives, walnuts, walnut oil and sherry vinegar. Season well with salt flakes and pepper. (Up to this point can be prepared 6 hours ahead).

5. Just before serving, peel the beetroot circles off the salmon. Arrange the salmon, crumpling it slightly into a nest, on one large or 2 individual plates. Spoon the salad in a pile on top. Drop a dollop of crème fraîche on top. Break off tiny fronds of dill and scatter over the salad.

Diana Henry’s Beetroot, Goat’s Cheese and Hazelnut Tart

Diana says: “Beetroot and goat’s cheese are a wonderful pairing – the sweetness of the beetroot is great against the tanginess of the cheese. Walnuts can be used instead of hazelnuts, and a salad dressed with a nut oil vinaigrette is perfect on the side.”

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: up to 30 minutes

500g puff pastry
3 large red onions, very finely sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper
350g cooked beetroot, cut into quarters
250g goat’s cheese, broken into chunks
2 tbsp hazelnuts, very roughly chopped
a little extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.

2. Roll out the pastry, either into a square or round (or an irregular free-form shape is fine). It shouldn’t be any thicker than a 10 pence piece.

3. Put the pastry onto a floured baking sheet and prick it all over with a fork. Then put into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and, if the centre has risen, gently flatten it. Turn the heat up to 200ºC.

4. Meanwhile make the topping. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Make sure they get coated with all the fat, add 2 tbsp water, season and cover the pan. Turn the heat down very low and let the onions sweat for about 20 minutes. You need to check every so often to make sure they’re not catching and burning at the bottom. You may need to add a splash more water. The onions should be completely soft.

5. Stir in the rosemary. If the mixture is very moist – almost wet – turn the heat up to drive off the excess. You don’t want too wet a mix to go on top of the tart.

6. Top the pastry with the onions, leaving a rim of about 4 cm round the edge, then add the beetroot wedges, then the crumbled cheese. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

7. Put this back into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, scattering the hazelnuts over the top 3 minutes before the end of cooking time (they just need to get toasted). The cheese should be golden in patches and the pastry should be cooked but not too dark in colour.

8. Serve immediately. If you like you can add sprigs of watercress or leaves of rocket once the tart is cooked – just strew them over the top and serve.

SALADS

Roasted shallot, beetroot, puy lentil and spinach salad with soft goats cheese

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: up to 30 minutes

12 shallots, peeled (If large, cut in half)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g of cooked baby beetroot
1tbsp runny honey
400g tin of puy lentils, rinsed and drained
or 225g ready cooked
150g baby spinach leaves washed and well drained
200g soft goat’s cheese
1 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp of chopped chives (optional)
5 tbsp rape seed oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 190°c gas mark 5 or 375°f

2. Put the shallots into a roasting tin, drizzle with the 2 tbsp of rape seed oil, toss well and season with sea salt and black pepper.

3. Place roasting tin in the oven for 15 minutes, then add the beetroot and drizzle with honey and toss well with the shallots. Roast for a further 10 minutes, or until the shallots are soft.

4. Meanwhile, drain the lentils and rinse under water and place in a bowl.

5. To make the dressing, mix all of the dressing ingredients together and season with sea salt and black pepper.

6. When ready remove the shallots and beetroot from the oven and mix with the lentils and half the dressing while still warm and leave to cool.

7. To serve, place the spinach leaves onto 4 plates, top with the shallots, beetroot and lentils, crumble over the goat’s cheese, drizzle with the remaining dressing and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Then serve with crusty bread.

Mark Hix’s Beetroot salad with smoked anchovies

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: none

1 can of smoked anchovies, drained
500g of cooked beetroot

For the dressing:
2 shallots, finely chopped
1tbsp chopped chives
½ tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

1. Cut into 5mm slices and lay them on plates or a serving dish.

2. To make the dressing, mix together the ingredients, along with some seasoning, and spoon it over the beetroot.

3. Arrange the anchovies on top.

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