Ofentse Morake of the Whippet in Linden admitted that one of his favourite, underrated vegetables is the beetroot because it is so versatile. He had an idea for a beetroot carpaccio that really inspired me. In the interests of saving time, I’ve also included a beetroot salad that is quicker to whip up.
I always remember a lecturer at university warning us that beetroot stains terribly and so dietitians should think carefully before including it in recipes (especially if children are involved) and so I’ve shied away from this great vegetable.
Not only does it come in purple (as we commonly see it) but it also comes in a golden colour. Beetroot have an earthy flavour and are naturally sweet.
If you are short on time it is possible to buy peeled, boiled options but please do not use pickled ones. If cooking them yourself, steaming is the fastest method (roughly 25 minutes depending on size to reach the desired tender-firm stage; leave skins intact to stop their colour from going everywhere and peel once cooked – kitchen gloves are advised. If your beetroot came with leaves, don’t throw them away. Beet leaves can be used in the same way you would use spinach.
According to Deborah Madison in her great book Vegetable Literacy, the flavour of beetroot pairs very well with an acidic dressing and so I have created a dressing with a big punch of flavour that mellows the earthiness of this vegetable.
I created two versions of the same salad. The first version, a beetroot carpaccio is great as a starter when entertaining or when you have more time on your hands because, let’s be honest here, who really wants to whip out and then clean a mandolin on a week night… The second version, for those that do not have a mandolin or just want to use the dish as a side salad is a hand chopped version with the addition of some radishes, it’s also the version I like more!
- ½ beetroot per person
- 2-3 small radishes per person (omitted from the carpaccio)
- Few springs wild rocket and coriander to garnish carpaccio, can use more as a base of the salad if making a side salad
- For the dressing
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 small clove garlic or ½ large clove
- Black pepper to taste
- Steam the beetroot whole with skins on for about 25 minutes or until they are firm, not completely tender. Allow to cool slightly before handling them.
- I highly recommend kitchen gloves while handing the beetroot for the next steps! Peel the beetroot using a potato peeler.
- If making carpaccio, slice the beetroot about 1-2mm thick using a mandolin and arrange on a starter plate in a circle. If making the salad, dice beetroot roughly.
- For the salad, quarter the baby radishes and sprinkle them over the beetroot.
- Finish both recipes by topping with rocket and coriander leaves as well as 2 teaspoons of the lemon mustard dressing.
- Season with freshly cracked black pepper.
- For the dressing: Mix all ingredients together. Left-overs can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Both rocket and radishes form part of the cruciferous vegetable family, making this beetroot salad a great source of the plant chemical called sulphurophane. This compound has been shown to have some antioxidant properties and may help reduce certain cancers. My personal preference is to get these chemicals from their food source rather than supplements.
I served this beetroot salad with ostrich skewers that had been marinated in cumin, mustard and lemon. Keep dressing separate if you’d like to take left-overs for lunch the next day. It was delicious when the beetroot was freshly steamed and cold the next day.