Chewy beetroot and toasted goat’s cheese salad with walnuts and seasonal leaves
November 25, 2010
This one was a complete accident and really should have been a disaster. I was making lunch for some friends a few Sundays ago and managed to leave the beetroot I was roasting in the oven way too long. I thought the whole thing would be a write off but instead, the beets had turned all chewy and extra sweet. They went down a storm. And so, a star was born. They should have come out of the oven after about an hour and a quarter which is what it usually takes to roast them nicely. However, my tiny kitchen was so messy and crowded I had nowhere to put them so I turned the temperature down, stuck them back in thinking I’d get back to them in a minute. Of course I got caught up in the usual chaos that goes with getting everything ready for when people come over – sorry to disappoint anyone who thought it might be oh so effortless at my house, it’s actually probably a lot worse than at yours. I forgot them for at least another 45 minutes, basically until I began to smell them from my bedroom upstairs. I was sure that was it. I rushed down and found they had shrunk to about half their original size and gone all wrinkled. Disaster!!!! But, when I tried one I realised that this was not going to be a problem. Far from it. Supersweet and concentrated with nice bit of chew they’d morphed into a kind of kid’s sweet. Very delicious and maybe even better than the kind I usually do. Thank you cooking gods!!!!
If you’re organised enough to be thinking about Christmas dinner/lunch this salad would make a fantastic starter. Everyone loves it. It’s light enough so you’re ready for all the main course action and most importantly, all of it bar the toasted goat’s cheese part, can be prepared well ahead of time…
Balsamic roasted chewy beets with seasonal leaves, walnuts and toasted goat’s cheese (for 2)
500gr beetroot (about 3 or 4 pieces)
2 decent handfuls of seasonal leaves – I used spinach but lettuce, rocket and lamb’s lettuce all work
About 10 walnuts
2 rounds of goat’s cheese (chevre) about 1 1 /2 cm thick
2 slices of very thin toast about the size of the cheese – ciabatta is ideal
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons mild olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or sherry if you prefer)
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
A pinch of crushed Maldon salt
First off, bring the beets to the boil and then keep them simmering for about 50 minutes or until they’re just about tender. When they’re ready, drain and allow to cool down a bit. Peel either by rubbing them (the skin will lift easily but you will end up with very pink hands) or use a sharp peeling knife. Cut each beetroot into eighths then toss in olive oil on a baking tray. Put in the oven for about 50 minutes at Gas mark 5/180 degrees turning about halfway through. When the 50 minutes are up, add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and give the baking tray a good shake to ensure all the beets get some vinegar. Return to the oven for another 45 minutes or so or until the beets have started to shrivel slightly.
To put the salad together, whisk the dressing ingredients together and set aside. Toss the salad leaves, beets and walnuts together with the dressing. Set the cheese on top of the toasts then put under a hot grill until golden. To serve lay the cheese alongside or on top of the salad. Eat immediately!!!