I would love to start my weekends picking up fresh produce and other treats from some of the excellent
farmers markets we now have in Christchurch, but teaching my regular Saturday morning yoga class means that markets are pretty much finished before I’ve closed up the school for the day. If I really get my skates on, however, I can often get to the little organic produce market at Vic’s Café & Bakery. That means I can kill several birds with the same stone … stock up on vegetables, as well as excellent coffee and some of Vic's great bread (I love their ciabatta, and their chocolate chip bagels are to die for).
This week at the market I was able to further indulge my current obsession with lemons, some of which were turned into a tangy lemon sorbet (recipe for this will follow in another post). I also got some beautiful tamarillos, which I’m experimenting with at the moment (keep watching this space), and a big bunch of beetroot.
At this time of year I often like to cook up a big tray of roasted winter vegetables that simply must include beetroot. Half of them get devoured hot, straight out of the oven, with a bowl of good pesto or freshly made hummus to dunk the veges into. The rest get saved for the next day, when they are tossed together with some feta, roasted pumpkin seeds, and a simple vinaigrette made with walnut oil and balsamic vinegar.
For this salad, however, I really wanted the beetroot to be the star of the show. I was inspired by the Ruby Salad which I enjoy every year at Casa Luna in Ubud,
Bali. In reality this salad bears little resemblance to the Casa Luna version, other than that they both contain beetroot, but I think the name is perfect for this creation, and it conjures up memories of warmth and sunshine. I’ve mixed the beetroot with pink yams and pink grapefruit. Then came some nuts for texture. If I'd had them in the pantry, my favourite roasted hazelnuts that I get from Piko Wholefoods would have gone in - but walnuts was what I had on hand, and as it turned out the slightly smoky taste they take on after toasting complemented the earthiness of the beetroot really well. Pine nuts would also be fine if that's what you have in the cupboard. And lastly I added a crumbling of blue cheese for some salty tang – I used Kapiti Kikorangi Blue, but any blue cheese, gorgonzola or even feta would work just as well. As for the dressing, the pomegranate molasses adds a robustness and tartness that complements the beetroot perfectly. There is no real substitute for pomegranate molasses, but if you don’t have it I would replace the red wine vinegar with a good balsamic vinegar, and add maple syrup instead of the pomegranate molasses.
Ruby Salad Recipe
4 medium-sized beetroot
1 pink grapefruit
handful of toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
3 tblspns extra virgin olive oil
1 tblspn red wine vinegar
1 tspn pomegranate molasses
¼ tspn whole-seed mustard
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 190oC.
After 30 minutes, remove beetroot from oven, open out foil parcel (be careful of the steam), toss yams in amongst the beetroot chunks, reseal parcel, and return to oven for a further 15 minutes. At the end of this time both beetroot & yams should be cooked through but still retain some firmness.
While beetroot is cooking, prepare the grapefruit. Remove skin & all white pith from grapefruit. Then slice down in between the membranes to remove the “fillets” of pink flesh. Work over a bowl to catch any juice, and once all the flesh has been removed squeeze as much juice as you can out of the membrane before discarding.
Remove beetroot and yams from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl gently toss together beetroot chunks, yams (cut in half), and pink grapefruit segments. Drizzle over the reserved grapefruit juice. Sprinkle over toasted walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, and reserved beet leaves (if any).
To make dressing simply combine all ingredients in a jar, shake well, check seasoning to taste, and then pour over assembled salad.
Would serve 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a light meal.