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Tag: beetroot

Beetroot Relish and Dilled Sour Cream Poppadom Bites

poppadoms and trimmings

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. The mornings surprise you with their icy presence, the tips of the trees are starting to turn golden, and the fruit trees in the neighbours’ gardens are exploding with a bounty of ripe goods. Soup season has well and truly arrived. While the jumpers have begun to reconquer their place in the cupboard, our daily tea consumption has doubled. Root vegetables are waving to us warmly at the supermarket as we gently bundle them up and take them home to create a dish of filling comfort.

Growing up in Bern, soup was an ever-popular staple over the colder months. At my dad’s we had a recurring list of menus to which we’d fall back on, including my stepmum’s legendary Bircher Müesli, Gschweuti, which is basically boiled potatoes served with a selection of toppings, apple tart, and at the time my little sister’s favourite, Riz Casimir, rice served with tinned fruit and tofu in a mild curry sauce. Another favourite, but slightly more rare guest on our dinner table, was borscht. I loved the almost ceremonial way the sour cream was dolloped onto the steaming burgundy soup, how you had to give it a good scattering of chopped dill fronds before gently scooping it up with a spoon, all the while trying not to disturb the stunning contrast of the beautiful colours.

So there I was the other day, daydreaming about finger food (yet again), when I thought about how swell it would be if I took those earthy cold-weathery borscht components and jazzed them up into a suave little nibble. Bring on that beetroot.

These babies are best assembled shortly before entering your mouth, so I suggest you spread all the ingredients out on a table and let everyone construct their little poppadum parcels themselves.

 

Beetroot relish

adapted from notquitenigella 

1 medium sized beetroot

½ tsp black mustard seeds

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1 allspice berry (dried)

pinch chili flakes

½ tsp salt

3/8 cups raw sugar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

 

A few hours before you want to make this nibble, start with roasting the beetroot. Do this by preheating the oven to 180°C, wrapping the beet tightly in tin foil, and letting it roast for a few hours. It will be done when you can easily slide a knife into it. Remove from the oven and cool.

When ready to make the relish, peel and grate the beetroot on the large holed – side of a box grater and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the mustard seeds until they begin to pop. Add the olive oil and onion, and cook until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and let them bubble away until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Make sure you stir it occasionally so it doesn’t catch. Once it’s done, remove from the heat and transfer to a jar. Let it cool down before you serve it. Why? Because the poppadums soften a lot quicker with heat, and we don’t want that.

Any leftover relish will keep in your fridge for at least a week.

 

To serve

1 packet small poppadums

200 ml sour cream (use light, full-fat or even Greek yoghurt. Just none of that non-fat stuff.)

1 bunch dill, leaves picked and finely chopped

 

Pop the poppadums in the microwave ( 30 sec – 1 min on high). Stir up the sour cream and mix it with the dill. Get your relish out. Once you’re ready to assemble and immediately eat these cuties, grab a poppadum, top it with some relish and  some dill sour cream. Crunch. Repeat.

Beetroot Dip

 

beetroot dip

Just when you thought there were no more dips, I come along and prove you wrong. Bam! I know, it’s a bit like Christmas. My pleasure. Truth be told, I don’t know why I’ve been withholding this baby from you. Too busy eating it I’d assume. Whatevs.

Do you like beetroot? I do. It’s particularly good in salady things, its earthy sweetness usually offset with the sour saltiness of some crumbled feta. Such a winning combo. Here in dip form, we oomp the awesomeness with some garlic, a little ground cumin and a dollop or two of greet yoghurt. You can use both canned or oven-roasted beets, only the canned variety will turn a more winey red and be more tangy, due to the pickling vinegar, while the latter will give you a zingy pink. You choose darling. I won’t judge you either way.

 

Beetroot Dip

 

1 medium beetroot

100g feta, plus a little bit more for decorating

1-2 Tbsp Greek yoghurt

1 small garlic clove

½ tsp ground cumin

½ vegetable stock granules

a sprinkling of chilli flakes

small dash soy sauce (umami that shit up)

a squeeze of lemon juice

 

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Line a tray with baking paper, get your beetroot, stab it all round – being incredibly careful as you do so okay? – wrap in tinfoil, then plonk it onto the baking tray and bake 45 min – 1 hour. Check with a knife to see if its done – it should slide in easily. Remove from the oven and cool. Once cool enough to handle, unwrap the foil and remove the skin. Roughly chop the flesh and transfer to a blender.

If you have a cat, at this stage he will be pestering you like crazy because he is assuming that the big lump of maroon you’re handling absolutely must be a sheep’s heart. Either ignore him, or to further confuse him, give him a sniff of the beetroot. He will be thoroughly unimpressed, but will decide to keep on meowing anyway. Cause that’s how he rolls.

Add ¾ of the 100g of feta, the yoghurt, cumin, vegetable stock granules, chilli and soy sauce. Give it a nice whiz, then have a little taste? Not tangy enough? Add a small squeeze of lemon juice. Crumble in the remaining 1/4 of the feta, give it a stir, then transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle over the extra feta over the top and you’re in business.

If you were to do this with tinned beetroot, a small can should do it, or an amount equivalent to what we used above. Omit the lemon juice because it will be tangy enough.

The Lentil of Salad

the best lentil salad

Lentil salad, chicken. You heard me. Lentils. Hippie heaven on a plate. No, I am being serious. This is the stuff. Rip out that prejudice you have sticking up on the wall of your brain of how unenjoyable lentil salad is. Because baby, it isn’t.  I went to a whole lot of trouble to make it into something beautiful and delicious, just to put a smile on your face. I know, I’m such a good person.

I want you to know why I love this salad, and why you should to. First of all, there is no celery in it. Celery is such a spoilsport. Secondly, no raw vegetables. They make salads like this one taste more healthy than delicious. And I would choose tasty over healthy any day. The sesame oil, the feta and the fresh coriander leaves are what make this lovely rock in my opinion. And even though I’m not usually a big fan, a confettied scatter of the ever so popular beetroot makes this salad enter a dimension of its own. Funny, Australians are the largest consumers of beetroot. I never would have guessed. It’s not like we’re big on beet salad or anything. Health Conscious? God no. You know what it is? Burgers. Burgers with a slice of pickled beetroot. At least we get a point for aesthetics. So yes. Sweet, salty and sour deliciousness.

And while you’re at it, you should go buy this cookbook called The Modern Vegetarian: Food Adventures for the Contemporary Palate by Maria Elia. It’s the initial source of inspiration for this recipe. Also, this is a vegetarian cookbook where literally every single recipe makes you want to get cooking immediately. Get it.

The Best Lentil Salad

Serves 2 really hungry people, 3 medium hungry people or 4 as part of a meal. Your pick.

1 cup brown lentils

2 Tsp olive oil

2 carrots, finely diced

1 onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp sesame oil

3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp vegetable stock powder

1 garlic clove, crushed

freshly ground black pepper

½ cup (4-5 beets) canned baby beetroot, finely diced

1 bunch coriander, finely chopped

100g Danish feta or goat’s cheese, crumbled

You may have your own way of cooking brown lentils, so do it your way if you want – this here is how I do it: Pour the lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with about 5 cm of water. Let them sit for about half an hour until they have soaked up some of the water, then put over a low flame. You may have to top up with more water along the way, but see how it goes. Simmer lentils till soft but not squishy. We need them to hold their shape. Drain them and keep to one side.

Now while the lentils are cooking, add the chopped carrots, onion and olive oil to a frypan and cook, covered, until soft. Turn off the heat. Add the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, stock powder, garlic and pepper. I do this in the same pan to save on dirty dishes. Now add the lentils and give it a good stir. Cover, and let them absorb all those delicious flavours, for about 15 minutes. Once the salad has cooled down, you can add the beetroot, coriander and feta.

Yum.

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