Wednesday, 25 August 2010


This was our first harvest of beetroots from the garden and boy were we chuffed! Alongside a healthy portion of yellow cherry tomatoes from our bay window planter boxes and some lovely organic goats cheese from wholefoods this was a home grown taste sensation!

Beetroots and goats cheese is a classic combo. Add the firm texture of the lentils with the creamy sharpness of the cheese and the sweetness of the beetroot it truly is amazing. My brother does an excellent lentil salad which is seasoned very well with lots of cracked pepper. This led me to read around and experiment by adding spices to the roasting process to add even greater depth of flavour. I was pleasantly surprised when I got a few zings of star anise and cardamom when eating some of the beetroots. This is great as a dinner party starter/side or simply delicious on its own for lunch.

Serves six:


1 tablespoon cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon cumin seeds (I was out this time around so substituted with ground cumin)
1 tablespoon star anise
8 small to medium-sized beetroot with leaves and stems intact
(If no leaves available - substitute with 100g rocket)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

200g Puy lentils (Important you track down Puy - other types wont hold their texture well enough)
About 200ml stock (vegetable or chicken, home made for best results)
2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Few handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Small bunch of mint, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
200g goats' cheese (any soft cheese would do however if you dont dig billy)
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C. Top and trim off roots of beetroot if they're fresh. Reserve stems and beetroot leaves for salad. Tear off a large square of tin foil (big enough to wrap all of the beets in one go). Scatter the salt and spices over a large piece of foil and lay the beetroot whole on top, then drizzle over a tablespoon of the olive oil. Mess them around a bit so the oil and spices coat the skins. Wrap loosely and place on tray in oven (it may leak juices)

Cook in the preheated oven for just under an hour, until the beetroot are completely soft when poked with a fork. Take them out of the oven and let them cool enough for you to peel. Peel and dice into rough cubes. Cover to keep warm.

While the beetroot are roasting and cooling, lightly fry your garlic in a pot with some oil for a minute or so then add your lentils and your stock and simmer gently for around 20 (sometimes up to 30) minutes. Don't let them simmer dry - like a risotto you want to periodically top up with stock or boiling water if they are running out of liquid. When they taste soft but still firm to the bite take them off the heat and drain off any excess liquid. Add a splash of olive oil and season well.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, in a smaller bowl select and roughly shred your smallest and youngest beetroot leaves to form the greens of your salad (or alternatively add your rocket). Select a handful of beetroot stems from the younger beets and cut into cm long pieces. Combine these leaves and stems with the tomatoes, parsley and chopped mint. Squeeze half a lemon over the leaves.

Lay out some lentils on each plate. Add some salad mixture and diced spiced beetroot. Add a few whole wint leaves and then crumble the goats' cheese over the top

Crack some pepper and drizzle some good olive oil over the salad and plate and eat while still warm.



Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

roast beetroot... heaven!

Ananda Rajashekar said...

Divine plate..beautiful click of fresh beetroots, glad to know about the amazing combo of beetroot and goat cheese (yum)...i have some waiting in my refrigerator can't wait to try! :)

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