Why Roasted Beetroot Salad
Firstly, my mum and brother-in-law love beetroot. Secondly, a friend asked for one of the recipes below after I was explaining to them how I roast beetroot, and lastly they are just perfect right now because they are in season.
Beetroots are native to the coasts of western and southern Europe and the Mediterranean Seas. They are a root vegetable that can be boiled, pickled, steamed or as I prefer; roasted.
This scarlet coloured vegetable is great in salads, especially during these colder months as they naturally have a sweetness that is balanced by a slight earthy bitterness of most root vegetables.
I think that our appreciation for beetroot has been impaired over time by the tinned, jarred and sliced version that has some how become an iconic ingredient in the ‘Australian burger’ along side the ever disturbing tinned pineapple. Beetroots are simple to cook, and should not just be dismissed to a tinned vegetable used in burgers and sandwiches.
I have included two recipes for Roasted Beetroot Salad, as I couldn’t decide between them. The principles are generally the same, the ingredients are just different, so please feel free to use your own gourmet licence.
Roasted Beetroot Salad with Apple, Sugar Snap Peas, Walnuts and Rocket
This salad is simple yet delicious. I think it comes down to the combination of different textures. Crunchy apples and walnuts matched with the smooth sweet beetroot and the crisp sugar snap peas.
1 bunch or 3-4 tennis ball size beetroots (with the stalk and leaves on)
1 brown onion, quatered with skin on
2 granny smith apples
150g sugar snap peas
20ml good quality extra virgin olive oil
20ml vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Firstly roasting the beetroots. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the stems and leaves off and lay them in the bottom of a lightly greased roasting pan. The stems will provide a great insulated base to roast the beetroots on, as well as providing moisture and flavour. Place the beetroots with the skins on (this will preserve their flavour and colour and save you some mess) top of the leaves.
Place the onions, and 3 orange halves around the beetroots. Pour 1/2 cup of water in the pan and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Cover the roasting pan with foil and roast in oven for 40 – 60 minutes. Check the beetroots after 40 minutes by inserting a knife through the foil into a beetroots (this will prevent you loosing all the steam if the beetroots are not ready). The beetroots should feel tender similar to a potato or other root vegetable.
Once cooked take out of the oven and leave to cool slightly before removing the foil.
When cool, peel off the skins. This should be easy to do; however if the skin does not come off with such ease use a small knife to help peel them away. Cut the beetroots in half and then into wedges.
For the salad. Prepare the sugar snap peas by removing their strings. (The strings are a small thin strip of fibre that runs vertically on the straightest side of the pea. It is removed by pinching the top of the pea and pulling the fibre down until it is removed.) Blanch the sugar snap peas in salted water and refresh in iced water till cold.
Cut the cheeks off the apples and cut into thin half moons. Drizzle with a little lemon juice to avoid them browning.
In a dry frypan toast the walnuts until warm.
The Dressing. Squeeze the 1/2 orange and lemon – you should have roughly 20ml of liquid. Pour the juice into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Combine the two oils together and while whisking with one hand slowly pour the oils with the other until an emulsion is formed. Check for seasoning.
In a large bowl place the rocket, apple, and walnuts and dress with 2 tablespoons of the dressing or enough until the leaves are lightly coasted and glossy.
Lastly right before serving toss the wedges of beetroot through the leaves. (You don’t want to add them too early as the will colour all your salad reddish purple). To finish drizzle with a little more dressing.
Serves 2 as a main course
Or 4 as a side salad
Roasted Beetroot Salad with Blue Cheese, Apple, Pear and Truffle Honey Dressing
This salad is wonderfully robust. The combination of pear, apple, honey and beetroots creates a great depth of sweetness, while the hint of spicy rocket and the salty blue cheese break through separating each sweet element.
1 bunch or 3 – 4 tennis ball sized beetroots (with the stalks and leaves on)
2 Granny Smith apples
2 William pears
50g blue cheese such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola crumbled
1tablespoon truffle oil (or substitute the honey for1 teaspoon of truffled honey)
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
30ml white wine vinegar
50ml vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare and Roast the beetroots as above.
For the Salad. Cut the cheeks off the apples and pears and slice into thin 1/2 moons. Drizzle with a little of the vinegar to stop them going brown.
The Dressing. In a large bowl place the honey and mustard, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. If using truffle oil add to the vegetable oil. While whisking with one hand slowly pour the oil with the other until an emulsion is formed. Check for seasoning.
In a large bowl place the pear, apple, crumbled blue cheese and the rocket. Add 3 tablespoons of the dressing and toss.
Right before serving add the beetroot and toss. Finish with a drizzle of dressing and some cracked pepper.
Serves 2 as a main
Or 4 as a side salad or entrée.