A delicious way of preparing beetroot is to slow-roast it with garlic and herbs thereby enhancing and concentrating its earthy sweetness. Once you taste it cooked this way you may realise that this root vegetable is certainly underrated. Inspired by my Italian roots (excuse the pun) in this Insalata Barbe Rosse con Formaggio di Capra e Noci (a mouthful!) I have prepared a mixed salad incorporating roasted and peeled deep red beetroot and contrasting it with Chévre/soft goat’s cheese or feta and crunchy Tasmanian organic walnuts. To drink, a glass of Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc wouldn’t go astray. Even a lightly chilled red wine like the light and fruity Tarrango (an Australian developed grape variety Touriga Nacional x Sultana crossing) or a dry style Rosé would accompany this dish well.
Want to learn more about beetroot? Refer to my article below “A Bit on Beetroot”.
INGREDIENTS Serves 4-6
6-8 small-medium beetroots, preferably leaves and root intact. Allow 1-2 beetroot per person depending on size
1 small bunch fresh thyme sprigs
Peel from one orange
6-8 garlic cloves, skin left on, gently crushed with the flat side of a large knife
Verjuice and lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Organic mesclun salad mix (butter leaf, baby cos, roquette, mizuna, etc.)
Soft herbs of your choice (chives, parsley)
Edible flowers (roquette, borage, nasturtium, calendula, marigold, chive)
12 lightly roasted Tasmanian organic walnuts broken into pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 teaspoons dark balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons strained orange juice
1 teaspoon fine orange zest
Chévre/soft goat’s cheese or feta
Preheat oven to 180-200˚C
Have ready a large sheet of foil and roasting tray with high sides.
- Prepare the dressing. Place vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, orange juice, orange zest and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl, jug or jar and mix. Set aside.
- If present, remove the beetroot leaves to about 2cm from the top of the bulb. Pick over and sort the best leaves for salad, wash, drain and set aside. The rest can go into the compost. Keep the root tail end intact.
- Soak, wash and brush beetroots thoroughly taking care not to break the skin. Drain and dry.
- Place the washed beetroots into the roasting tray with the garlic, thyme sprigs and leaves, orange peel, olive oil, a splash of verjuice and lemon juice. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Tightly cover the tray with foil. Place in pre-heated oven to roast for about 45-60 minutes or until soft.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool. Then gently rub off the peel with you fingers. (You may like to consider wearing food preparation gloves when peeling beetroot!)
- Once you have peeled the beetroots, cut each one into small wedges and add back to the roasting tray with the oil and pan juices.
- Pick out the roasted garlic and squeeze the flesh from the skin. Place back into the tray.
- Set aside at room temperature for an hour or so to allow the flavours to mingle and marinate.
- In a large mixing bowl place the salad leaves, herbs, a few edible flowers, a third of the walnuts, most of the roasted beetroot wedges and roasted garlic.
- Season with a little salt then add the prepared dressing little by little. Gently mix through.
- Place in a serving bowl. Top with the remaining walnuts and crumbled Chévre. Garnish with extra edible flowers and serve.
The roasted garlic from this dish can also be used to spread onto slices of baguette or sourdough bread. Top with a dollop of Chévre or creamed feta and finely chopped parsley for a pop in the mouth morsel with a sip of Pinot! : )
You can also prepare a salad using raw beetroot by finely grating it and mixing it with orange zest and juice, chopped parsley, then dressing it with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Beetroot Roasting with Thyme Garlic & Orange
A BIT ON BEETROOT
Beetroot is one of four forms of the plant Beta vulgaris. There is also Chard (as in Swiss Chard) grown for its edible leaves and stalks, Mangelwurzel used for animal fodder and Sugar Beet grown for its roots and source of sugar. When we lived in East Anglia, England sugar beet was harvested and contributed to the production of sugar. Mind you one of its by-products was an awful smell that wafted around the region! But back to Beetroot. Most people have experienced the dreadful over vinegared and over produced tinned or bottled product on the supermarket shelves and it has dissuaded probably even you from enjoying the real thing. Some don’t wish to touch this interesting vegetable let alone eat it! In the kitchen garden it is very versatile producing vibrant coloured leaves that can be added to salads and cooked like spinach. There are many heirloom varieties well worth growing such as, Albina vereduna a Dutch variety with sweet white roots, Globe with deep red roots, Italian Chioggia with pink rings and white flesh and there are mini and golden varieties. Both the bulbous root and vitamin rich leaves are edible.