Beetroot: it’s beautiful – and delicious

We have a bumper beetroot crop at the moment and although it’s easy to bottle, it’s also100_2859 great doing new things with it.  Freshly pulled, beetroot cooks more quickly than when shop bought, and is beautifully tender and sweet – another reason not to just pickle it.  Besides being delicious roasted or simply added to a leafy green salad, here are two salads that have become firm favourites with us.

This first one is often requested by our friends, so I suppose it has become one of my “signature” dishes.  The other is a new addition to the repertoire.  More of that in a mo….

Beetroot and plum salad

The original recipe for this salad comes from Fruit & Veg City’s range of recipe books which I have adapted (Not that there’s an outlet anywhere near McGregor…).  I’ve served it on a large platter for a buffet meal, and this Christmas, served it plated, as a starter – either way, the presentation is the same, just the scale varies – and it’s very attractive.2013-12-25 18.55.52

In terms of quantity, I usually work on one beetroot (cooked and sliced) and plum per person and then work the leaves and other bits accordingly. Make sure that you select beetroot of similar sizes so that when you assemble your plate or platter, you don’t get all balled up because things don’t look right.

The salad consists of fresh plums, pitted and quartered, red onions, thinly sliced (or chopped spring onion leaves), all marinated, in a lemony vinaigrette for about an hour.

To assemble:  if you’re using a platter, place a circle of overlapping slices of beetroot around the edge and then pile salad leaves in the centre (the original recipe says baby spinach), top with the plums, reserving some of the marinade, and sprinkle crumbled feta over these and then drizzle some of the remaining marinade over the plate.

Rocket, beetroot and goat’s cheese salad

We recently went to see the magnificent gardens at Babylonstoren.  There is al100_2759so a restaurant, Babel.  The menu is based on seasonal fare with much of the produce from the garden and surrounding area.  Although we didn’t eat there, we did get the book about the garden and its produce, and also some of the recipes they use. The approach is interesting, in that it talks about a particular vegetable, and what other ingredients compliment it.  On the way home from our visit, we also passed Fairview and had bought some of their fabulous goat’s cheese.

100_2864So given both the glut of beetroot and my reluctance to use rocket (which, I think can be overpowering), I gave one of the combinations suggested a bash – beetroot, rocket and goat’s cheese.  This is what I came up with:  Beetroot on a bed of rocket, with slices of black pepper chevin, drizzled with lemon and parsley pesto.

It was delicious – the sweet beetroot is a fantastic counter to the peppery harshness of the rocket and the textures work beautifully.

And then, there’s more…

Remember that if you’re growing your own beetroot, the leaves are a wonderful addition to salads and stir fries.  The flavour is rather earthy, like spinach, and young leaves add lovely colour variations.

Quiche-cum-savoury tarts

I promised this a while ago……………

This is a very easy way to make a quiche – I don’t have scientific measures, and when Di asked me for the recipe, I had to think about it.  So, here goes –

The basicsquiches

I use puff pastry (short pastry works just as well) and I buy it frozen.  This recipe takes half (or a quarter if you use the little dishes that I have in the picture below; and the thawed pastry keeps in the fridge for a week with no deterioration)
The custard is three eggs and 2 dessert spoons yoghurt (greek or bulgarian or low fat – whatever you choose), P&S to taste, beaten together.  If you like a less “eggy” tart, 2 eggs work just as well.

“Fillings”
I use a rage of fillings, but our favourites are herbed leek & onion and spinach.

Leek & Onion
bunch of leeks, cleaned & chopped
medium onion, sliced
clove garlic (optional)
Fresh herbs to taste (any you would like, and which work well with cheese e.g. oregano, parsley and thyme)
115g cheddar

Spinach & Feta*
bunch of spinach, cleaned & chopped
medium onion, diced
1 tsp fresh fennell, chopped finely
half “wheel” of feta, crumbled
(optional extra about 2 dessert spoons diced, roasted butternut)
*sometimes I use cheddar – just for a change or if I’ve run out…..

Saute the onion until transparent and add the garlic, if using.  Saute for a couple more minutes and then add you veg of choice and cook until tender.  Season to taste.

Grease and line your pastry dish – I leave the pastry quite rustic.  If I’m using cheddar, I put that in first and then the rest of the filling on top of that.  The feta goes on top of the spinach and then pour over the custard.

Bake in a hot oven (200 Celsius) for about 40 minutes, depending on the size of your dish.

This serves four for a a light meal with a green salad.  For the more hungry, add some crusty seed bread or a potato salad.

Enjoy…………………..