Thursday, March 7, 2013

Beetroot and Orange Salad (Old Dogs Can Learn New tricks)

Making this dish probably signified a point of growth in my ability as a cook, a maturity perhaps.

It’s not that the dish was particularly hard or technical: it’s a salad - you chop things up.

No, it marked the day that I actually thought about consequences of what I was about to do, and took action to prevent the inevitable. In other words – I wore gloves.
You should always keep some gloves in the bedroom, um kitchen. You never know what you will need them for

Back step a few years to Christmas 2011. I had just bought Julie Goodwin’s second cookbook, even better than her first, because it felt like something my family would have put together, except with some fancy bits and bobs thrown in. I had rather grandly decided to make pots of chutneys and jam for family and friends and she had a tasty looking recipe for chilli ginger jam (try it, it’s awesome).

As I was making massive quantities of this jam I had bought dozens of red chillies.

And I started chopping.

With no gloves.

I didn’t really notice anything at first, but then after I had my hands in the oven numerous times and began handling the roasted capsicums, my hands started burning. Like they had been touched by the devil himself.

For two days my hands scorched. I couldn’t touch the baby, I couldn’t rub my eyes. I could only sit there and tell myself ‘next time, wear gloves’.
I wonder who the first person who thought 'we should definitely eat that!' was

There is no chilli in this salad, but there is something even more cunning: fresh beetroot. This stuff stains like a… well, like a beetroot. Clothes, benches and particularly hands.
It looks like a bit like a scene from CSI
So, it was a simple matter of gloving up to wash the beetroot before wrapping them in foil and roasting them for an hour and a half. Then I double-gloved when it was time to rub the skins off. I make a lot of mistakes, but I certainly try not to repeat the same ones (more than once or twice).
Purple and green: colours of the feminist revolution

Did you know you can eat the leaves of the beetroot plant? Well now you do. Together with some baby rocket, I threw the beetroot leaves in a bowl, added the chopped beetroots, some roasted red onion and segments of orange. Over the top I crumbled feta and tossed some roughly chopped pecans.

The dressing was a tasty combination of seeded mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar and EVOO.
This is the finished product, pretty awesome looking

I made it in advance so by the time we ate it, the feta had been stained pink by the beetroot, but considering it was a BBQ with seven little girls (and one lonely lad) it seemed only fitting.

Not that any of the kids would deign to eat it though. OMG ‘Nuts!’ run screaming for the hills, girls.

My thoughts

After three successes with salads, I am considering changing my opinion to ‘you can make friends with salad’.

As long as there isn’t too much of that leafy stuff.

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