Tag Archives: beetroot salad

Sweet Beets

I think beetroot is one the most under-appreciated vegetables. It’s got a lot going for it – a sweet, earthy flavour and a colour that is literally shocking. But it has done rather badly thanks to the favoured British way of serving it. I mean, why would you want to use it in its lovely fresh state when you can pickle the thing in vinegar and turn it into something astringent and rather naff? I mean, why?

Well, time to change that. I love cooking with beetroot, and find that it is really versatile. It makes a great sauce for pasta or gnocchi (cooked up with cumin seeds, cream and fresh dill), sensational hot and cold soups and beetroot juice gives you vibrant, natural colours in savour and sweet dishes. When icing a cake, beetroot will give you one of the hottest pinks you could wish for. It can also be used in baking, making wonderful beetroot and chocolate cakes that are moist, chocolatey and nutritious. Convinced yet?

One of the easiest things to make is a Swedish-style beet and apple salad. Worth making for the stunning colour alone. My timing is also spot on – tomorrow is Sweden’s national day, so the country will be awash with flags, smörgåsbord and (probably) beetroot salad.

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This salad is just apple and beetroot, finished off with a little onion, sour cream and seasoning. It is by turns fruity, savoury, creamy and fresh. It is also incredibly easy to make – just chop-chop, mix-mix, and you have a colourful and delicious summery salad, which is great with a light lunch or as part of a brunch spread. This is my take on the version served at London’s Scandinavian Kitchen – I was too shy to ask them for their recipe (which I would imagine is secret anyway) so I’ve tried to re-create this so I can get my fix in the meantime.

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This makes a good lunch served alongside other Scandinavian delights like dill potato salad, crispbread and goodies like meat and fish.

To make Swedish beetroot and apple salad:

• 4 medium beetroot
• 4 crisp apples, peeled and cored
• salt, to taste
• pepper, to taste
• 1/2 small white onion, very finely chopped
• sour cream (use a 300ml pot)
• dill, to finish

1. Cook the beetroot – drop them whole into boiling water, cover and simmer until the beets are tender (around an hour). Drain and leave to cool (this is a good thing to do the day before).

2. Peel the cold beets – trim off and discard the top and bottom, and use the back of a knife to rub off the skin – it should just come off without the need to cut the beets. Once peeled, cut the beets into small chunks and put into a large bowl.

3. Peel and core the apples, cutting into small cubes. Add to the beets.

4. Add the onion, salt and pepper to the beets, plus as much sour cream as you like. You want the beets and apple to be well-coated, but not swimming in cream. Stir well until everything is shocking pink. Enjoy cold, and watch your tongue change colour!

Worth making? This is a straightforward summer recipe – easy, fresh and delicious. Recommended!

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Beetroot with Yoghurt and Lemon Relish

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.

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury