Here’s another recipe which makes use of every part of the vegetable, in this case the humble beetroot. I’ve roasted the beets, sautéed the leaves, and pickled the stalks; paired with some pearled spelt from Sharpham Park and some crumbled goats’ cheese, this frugal dish makes a spectacular Autumn supper, sitting somewhere between a warm salad and a spelt risotto.
Embracing every part of the vegetable and wasting nothing is one of my favourite things about shopping at a farmer’s market; the veggies to be found, in all their rugged glory, are a far-cry from the scrubbed and dissected offerings at a supermarket.
This recipe serves 4 people.
For the salad:
4 medium beetroot, including the stalks and leaves
1 cup pearled spelt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
small log of goats’ cheese, approx. 120g
small handful of walnuts halves
salt & pepper
For the pickled stalks (and pickled beetroot reduction):
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup red wine
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
salt & pepper
First, cut the beetroots from the stalks and wash them well. Cut the stalks from the leaves and rinse these well under running water. Rinse the leaves under running water too, but also soak these in a large bowlful of cold water for a few minute; any trapped silt will full to the bottom.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Peel and dice the beetroot into approximately 1.5cm by 1.5cm cubes. Toss these with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, some finely chopped rosemary, and salt & pepper. Line a roasting tray with greaseproof paper, and cook in the preheated oven for 28 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse the spelt, and cover with cold water in a medium saucepan. Add a generous amount of salt to the water, and bring this to a gentle simmer. Cook the spelt for approximately 24 minutes. This should dovetail nicely with the roasting beetroot.
Meanwhile, prepare the pickling liquor for the stalks; these will add a great bite to the dish, both in terms of texture and flavour. In a small saucepan simply combine the strait-forward ratio of pickling liquor ingredients and bring this to the boil.
Finely slice the beetroot stalks and place in a small mixing bowl or Tupperware. When the pickling liquor has boiled for two minutes and all the sugar has dissolved, pour this over the stalks. These will keep happily in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, garnishing other salads, or pairing with cheeses nicely.
All that remains is to crumble the goats’ cheese and toast the walnuts in the oven - about 4 minutes should be sufficient to boost their flavour.
An optional step here – but well worth doing! - is to reduce some of the pickling liquor (which is now infused with beetroot flavour and colour) as a delicious, not to mention beautiful, dressing to drizzle over the finished plates. Simply strain half the liquor back into its small saucepan and boil rapidly until slightly reduced and looking syrupy.
Drain the spelt and allow the steam to billow off; there’s no need to wash the saucepan, a quick rinse will do, as we can use it strait-away to sauté the beetroot leaves.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the saucepan and add the beetroot leaves, tearing any which are fairly large, and perhaps discarding the toughest few. Pop the lid on and sauté/steam these for 3-4 minutes. Add in the cooked spelt, and then the roasted beetroot. Stir well and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Tip into warm bowls and scatter with the crumbled goats’ cheese and the roasted walnuts. Spoon over some pickled beetroot stalks too, and tablespoon or two of the pickled beetroot reduction