A little part of me feels sad when I see all those beetroots with their tops removed. Did you know that beetroots were originally cultivated in Ancient Egypt BECAUSE of their greens? The actual beet was more of an afterthought. That is why us Australians, and many other countries, refer to “beets” as beetroot – referring to the root, rather than the vague term “beets”, which refer to the whole vegetable, greens and all, I suppose.
So, here’s a recipe, right in time for Tu Bishvat, the birthday of the trees – to honour the beet – root and greens.
2-3 bunches of small beets with gorgeous and fresh greens attached (for a visually eclectic and pretty salad try for red, golden and chioggia beets)
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
¾ cup toasted walnuts, crumbled or shelled hazelnuts, chopped
The star of this salad is certainly the beets, but feel free to add some or all of these ingredients below:
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup good quality kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
¼ red onion, sliced and marinated in red wine vinegar for 15 minutes or more
½ cup fresh pomegranate seeds
2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses or silan (date honey)
½ cup red wine vinegar (feel free to use the red wine vinegar from the onions)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 grinds pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Separate the tops from the beets leaving about 1.5 inches of the stem. Clean and peel the beetroots and slice them into quarters, right through the roots and remaining stems. In a mixing bowl, toss the grapeseed oil and the beets (if you’re using gold and red beets, keep them totally separate so the golden colour stays golden). Roast for about 25 minutes, but check them every ten minutes, until they are tender but with some resistance and a bit of bite.
To serve, take a bunch of the beet greens, roll them up and slice thinly (or chiffonade). When the beets have cooled to room temperature, toss all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Combine all the dressing ingredients into jar or well sealed container and give it a good shake. Pour some of it over the salad, and leave some to spare. You want just enough to coat the vegetables, rather than take them swimming in dressing. I purposely got you to make extra dressing so you can use it for another salad and stop buying that crappy bottled stuff! Toss the salad well and serve at room temperature and do tell me how it all went!
Chef’s tip: To skin hazelnuts easily, right after roasting, transfer all the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and wrap well. Rub the nuts through the towel for a minute or so, you should feel the skins come off. Open the towel and remove the nuts with loose open fingers, so most of the brown skins stay on the towel.