Ciao tutti! I write to you from Puglia in Italy. Tonight I’ll be cooking some lovely local fish and vegetables which I’ll post on the blog, but for now here is a dish that I made before I left.
I recently moved to a new area of London where there is a great farmers’ market nearby. In a big city like London, it’s so refreshing to be able to buy UK grown, organic fresh produce that hasn’t traveled thousands of miles and doesn’t look like it was churned out of a factory. Plus it’s wonderful to get to know what fruits and vegetables are in season and develop a relationship with the vendors and farmers. The other day I bought two bunches of beetroot with large fresh greens, and having always wanted to try cooking/eating the greens, I came up with this warm roasted beetroot salad using the cooked greens. My verdict on the beet greens? Absolutely delicious. They are sort of like a cross between chard and spinach and like any other leafy green they are very nutritious.
It was a Sunday where I didn’t have much in fridge so I added some store cupboard staples of walnuts oil and roast walnuts to complement the beetroot (beetroot and walnuts are a match made in heaven) and allow the two flavours to sing. However feel free to add some fresh chopped herbs like parsley, chives or mints, finely chopped chilli or garlic, finely sliced celery or swap the nuts for almonds, macadamias or hazelnuts.
For this beetroot salad, I used a mixture of normal beetroot and chioggia beetroot; a beautiful type of beetroot that when cut open reveals a candy-like pattern of rings of white and pink. Stunning finely sliced in a salad, although unfortunately the pretty pattern fades during cooking.
Warm roast beetroot salad with their greens and walnuts – Vegan, Gluten, Grain and Dairy free + no added refined sugar/salt.
- 1 bunch of beetroot with their greens (choose a bunch with a generous amount of fresh large leaves and small-medium evenly sized beetroot)*
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 2-3 tsp walnut oil
- lemon juice, to taste
- black pepper
- roasted walnuts, a large handful or two**
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan.
- Wash, scrub and trim the beetroots. Take a double layer of aluminium foil and place the unpeeled beetroots on top then drizzle over some olive oil (no more than a tablespoon) and the rosemary and toss to coat. Add the water then bring together the corners of the foil to make a parcel (if the sheet is too small just wrap around more foil until you have a sealed parcel). Place in the oven and roast for anywhere between 35-50 minutes (on average 40-45 minutes depending on the size of your beetroots) until they are tender and easily pierced with a sharp knife.
- Remove from the oven, open the parcel and leave to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skins. It helps to slice of the base of the stalk and gently peel away the skin from there. Chop into chunks then set aside.
- Chop/crush the roasted walnuts into rough chunks then set aside. (See below for how to roast walnuts).
- Remove any large tough stalks from the beetroot greens then wash and finely slice.
- Heat a large pan/wok with a drop of olive oil then sauté the greens for a few minutes until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat then add the roast beetroot, walnut oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and lots of coarsely ground black pepper and toss well. Place on a large plate and scatter over the roast walnut pieces. Serve warm.
*Supermarkets tend to sell beetroot bunches with their greens removed, so you’ll have to go to a farmer’s market, greengrocer or organic food stores to find them. I think whole foods market sells them with greens attached.
**To roast walnuts: Either dry toast them in a large pan over heat (although I find this method toasts them a little unevenly) or place them in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes, tossing halfway through, until lightly browned.
With Love, Spice and Smile,