I was turned off beetroot as a kid because the only way I ever saw it presented was pickled and floating in vinegar – fresh beetroot plucked straight from the soil and baked to retain all the goodness, is a different matter entirely: earthy, tender, wonderful and incredibly good for you. In this recipe, walnuts, goats cheese and beetroot make ideal bedfellows.
12-15 baby beetroot
2 tbsp lemon juice
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
70g baby spinach leaves and some small beetroot leaves
A bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
100g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
75g toasted walnuts
Twist off the leaves from the beetroot (don’t cut, this causes them to bleed), leaving about 2 inches of stalk attached to the beet. Wash them well and pat dry.
Place them in a tinfoil parcel and bake in a hot (220 degrees Celsius) oven for about 35-45 minutes. They will be very tender when cooked – pierce with a knife to check.
Take a beetroot and rinse under a cold tap (so you can handle it), then quickly remove the skin by rubbing with your fingers – if it is well cooked, it should come off easily. Repeat with all the beetroot and cut them in to quarters.
Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and mustard together in a small bowl. Season to taste.
Place the spinach, beetroot leaves and chopped parsley in a large bowl. Add half the dressing and toss well. Divide among 4 serving plates (or leave in the large bowl if desired), then scatter with beetroot, goat’s cheese and toasted walnuts.
Garnish the salad with some parsley, drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve immediately.
Related: Broad Bean Hummus
Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY Ireland. We are trying to get 100,000 people to take a pledge to grow something they can eat – take the GIY pledge at www.facebook.com/giyireland.