Finally, I have made something savoury! This is a salad from Ottolenghi’s new cook book Plenty – a beetroot salad with a fresh lemon-tomato relish and served with a swirl of Greek yoghurt. I need a few new summer staples, and this recipe just called out for me to try it.
I really love beetroot. The colour is amazing and it always brightens up dishes (and actually makes a good natural food dye if you like things hot pink), and the flavour is delicious. At the moment, the market stalls are starting to see baby beetroot. These are wonderfully sweet, and I can happily cook them and eat them on their own. You also get two vegetables in one – the familiar root, and the leaves, which are bright green traced with pink.
My opinion is that beetroot combines wonderfully with yoghurt and dill, so for me this recipe is perfect. You start by preparing a tomato-based relish, which includes corriander, dill, roasted bell peppers and lemon, so it has lots of flavours. However, rather than mixing the sauce, beetroot and yoghurt and ending up with a Pepto-Bismol effect, just spoon the salad and the yoghurt into a serving dish and swirl slightly for a pretty raspberry-ripple effect. This looked amazing in the late evening sunshine – the colour of garnets, with flecks of red, green and yellow and flashes of creamy-white – and it was a big hit with my diners too.
For the recipe, see here. I found this quite easy to follow – I cooked the beetroot the evening before, so the next day I just had to make the tomato sauce and allow it to cool before combining everything.
However, I did make two improvisations – I didn’t have any preserved lemon, so I used the skin of a fresh lemon, which I cut into small pieces, and soaked in lemon juice and salt for half an hour. This tasted good, but I think if I were to make this again, I would just use the zest of 1/2 lemon in place of the preserved lemon, rather than chopped peel. Ah well, live and learn! Secondly, I added the herbs (parsley, corriander and dill) to the cold tomato sauce, so that they would not cook and thus would keep their freshness. And it worked!
Worth making? If you have the time or are organised to plan ahead, then this is a great dish to prepare, and it makes a lovely change from “normal” beetroot salads. Just make sure to get the relish right for your tastes. However, the time you need means that you can’t magic this up at short notice, which is worth knowing if you’ve got to pull together dish in a hurry. But this one I will make again.