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)

You’ll need:

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

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

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

The dressing:

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!!!



April 6, 2009

Hi everyone,

This week our bags have lovely Spinach which is a great fast food. After a thorough wash (it can be very gritty), you destem the leaves then pack them in a pot and steam them in the water left clinging to the leaves. Cooking will take about 2-3 minutes then you can serve it straight up with a knob of Butter or a drizzle of Olive Oil. For a really delicious sidedish sauté a few chopped cloves of Garlic in Butter then throw on the Spinach, mix everything together well and serve. For a maincourse add some cream and Parmesan and you’ve got a very quick pasta sauce. This week’s recipe is a pasta dish but without the cream as I’m sure that we’d all like to hit the beach at some stage this year…………..



Pasta with Spinach, Garlic and Black Olives (for 3-4 people)

You’ll need:

250-300gr Spinach (about what you have in your bag this week)
5 Cloves Garlic
Olive oil
Handful of stoned Black Olives roughly chopped
Pasta (whatever you like)
Parmesan Cheese

First of all stick on the kettle for the pasta (this dish is fast) Wash and destem your spinach then roughly shred it. Stem the leaves as described above then wring out any water with your hands as soon as it cools down.
While the Spinach is cooling stick on the pasta.
Chop the Garlic then gently sauté it in a large knob of Butter and some Olive Oil. When the Garlic has softened (don’t let it change colour as it’ll start to burn very quickly after that) add the Spinach and toss well to make sure it all gets coated in Butter and Garlic. When the pasta is cooked drain it and mix into the pasta adding some more Butter and Olive Oil aswell as a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan and the Olives.
Season with Salt and Pepper and serve immediately.

Spinach is, of course, fab in all kinds of salads and sambos.Try it with sundried Tomatoes, toasted Pinenuts and Goat’s Cheese or with Walnuts and Feta. Dress with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and serve with a simple Omelette or some fish.

Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great week,