Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Feel The Beet

It is oft lamented that those who say they hate beets do so on the basis of the dodgy vinegary stuff that our mothers sliced onto salad plates in the 80s. That was definitely not its finest hour, but proponents of the knobbledy red super-staining power veg have made valiant efforts in recent years to showcase its beauty beyond that tongue-stinging incarnation. Beetroot seems to be one of these superfoods that is continually cropping up in those "OMG ten foods that will TOTALLY make you beautiful/skinny/smart/live to a million/generally amazing" features. Beetroot juice has become something of a trendy food fad among athletes in recent years, as studies have found it to boost athletic performance. Honestly, yes it is pretty crammed with quite a quantity of vitamins - A, C, loads of the B ones...I won't go on, in case the other vegetables start to hate it and pick on it for being too perfect. But above and beyond all the virtuous goody two-shoes vitamin action, it is a delicious vegetable, and one that is definitely worthy of a second chance from anyone who harbours the scars of childhood beetroot trauma.

My parents paid a visit a couple of weeks ago, bearing a ginormous veggie box. While I was initially delighted, the guilt began to kick in about two days later, as my uneaten bounty began to wilt. I fancied a big instant-access salad that I could grab on the go and shovel into me - virtuous food that I don't have to think about. Where better to find such a creation than the Cornucopia cookbook? I zoned in on the beetrot, watercress, orange and pumpkin seed salad, a light, zippy number. To supplement my parents' beetroot donation I pulled some of the pretty candy cane-striped beets from my own garden. 

Big 'uns, little 'uns, all ready to dye the bejaysus out of anything and everything that they come into contact with.

It was quite the bloodbath as I grated my way through all of those beets. I'm not entirely wild about grating, so there were quite a few large bits of ungrated beet chucked in there.

The task of peeling two oranges so that they could be separated into perfect segments was a surprisingly successful task for these clumsy and impatient hands.

The recipe calls for 150g pumpkin seeds; I opted, instead, for a seed mix packet from Superquinn - toasted in the oven while I was busying myself with the rest. 

The dressing is beautifully light and zesty - juice of 1.5 lemons, juice of one orange and while the recipe lists 30ml apple juice concentrate, I used the suggested alternative of 1tbsp runny honey, along with some salt and pepper.

After gently combining the grated beets, orange segments and toasted seeds, a little greenery is required. The recipe specifies watercress, but I wanted to make the most of my garden haul so I used the leaves from the beetroot (as nutritious as spinach leaves, apparently) to green it all up. The fab citrus dressing is the finishing touch to this refreshing salad. It's full-on healthiness and will fill you up beautifully for the afternoon, as well as proving a very worthy accompaniment to fish. 

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