beet salad with eggs, green peas and dill mayonnaise

plated

You could call this recipe a ‘happy accident’. A mash-up of sorts, the initial concept created from various leftovers in the fridge.

Not just any leftovers. I’d just completed two catering jobs within the space of one week, both of which focused largely on canapés and healthy finger-food. After plating everything from mushroom and truffle pies to artichoke and pea crostini, I naturally had bits and pieces left in Tupperware containers throughout the fridge. Being one who hates waste, I set to work on ‘being inventive’.

It wasn’t that hard really. I’m a naturally intuitive cook so I soon turned leftover rice paper rolls into a Thai-inspired salad (with a spicy lime dressing) and excess cheese into an artichoke and goat cheese flatbread. Leftover herbs became a herb-infused oil that slicked brightly across boiled new potatoes, whilst excess stone fruit was char-grilled and paired with the last wedge of roquefort.

beet2 stems

Towards the end of the week, I tackled some leftover condiments that were specifically made for the catering jobs (in other words, I hadn’t sterilised jars for long-term canning, hashtag amateur). There was a tub of beet relish, two jars of Thai peanut sauce, a jar of creamy herb mayonnaise and a Tupperware container of lemon avocado cream.

The peanut sauce was easy. It loaned itself beautifully to tofu stir-fries and Asian dishes, whilst the avocado cream was simply piled on toast (before being liberally adorned with chilli flakes). I used half of the herb mayo in a potato salad with bacon and shallots and then, on a whim, I decided to use the rest in ‘something Swedish’.

aioli

If you’re new to this blog, I’d better explain: Sweden wasn’t just a random culinary destination. Aaron and I have family in Malmö (on the Southern-most tip of Sweden, separated from Denmark by the Øresund Strait) and we spent our Summer holidays there in mid-2014 eating plenty of rye bread, salmon and thick mayonnaise (read about our trip here and here).

Swedes definitely like mayonnaise. In fact, they even sell mayonnaise in squeezy toothpaste tubes, same with caviar and mustard. I figured the residual mayonnaise would work beautifully with the leftover beet relish in a salad of sorts, combined with butter leaf lettuce, boiled eggs, shelled green peas and fragrant dill.

aerial aiolispoon

The salad was rather beautiful to eat. Summery and fresh, crunchy with fresh vegetables and creamy from the dollops of herb mayonnaise. It wasn’t exactly rocket science; the flavours aren’t new and I didn’t reinvent the Scandinavian wheel. However, we ate it with roasted sweet potatoes and something tomato-ey (roasted, I think) and both Aaron and I were happy. I was just glad to have conquered the pile of leftovers. It was good.

For that reason, I didn’t think further of this salad until late last week. It slipped into the corner of my mind, replaced by notes for chia puddings (my next post) and spelt sourdough (I am so excited Sandra!). But last Friday, Aaron and I were walking the dog in a local park when he stated: ‘I really liked that salad you made, the one with the eggs in it?’. ‘Oh, yeah, you mean the beet one?’. ‘Yeah, I think so. It was good’.

It was good.

Let me put this in context. Aaron hardly ever comments on my cooking these days, unless something is exceptionally good (e.g. this slice) or exceptionally bad (I once knocked a jar of smoked sea salt into a roasting tray of hand-cut chips). So, to get a comment from him about a salad made from leftovers? That’s enough for a blog post.

beets

So, fast forward to today and this little post on leftover salad. I decided to write my recipe notes down with some photos in case, you know, you’ve got leftover mayo and boiled eggs in the fridge (and a husband who likes both!).

As per most salad recipes, it’s more of a concept than a science, so I’d encourage you to play with substitutions and inclusions if you like the basic premise (beetroot + mayonnaise + eggs + dill). Steamed asparagus, extra capers, cooked quinoa or sliced avocado would combine beautifully, as would a little grated horseradish or mustard in the mayonnaise.

top

I switched my original use of butter lettuce to spinach and beet greens for the purposes of this blog post, mostly as I love beet greens and I hate waste (the larger, more robust leaves from this bunch were eaten last night, sautéed in olive oil with shallots, garlic and a little bit of salt). However, both Aaron and I ate some of this salad for lunch today and his preference is still for the lettuce (because, crunch). My vote is for spinach and beet greens, so… each to their own, I guess.

Either way, give this salad a go. It’s a beautiful accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats, pumpernickel or rye bread, gravadlax (for the true Swedish feel) or crispy-skinned salmon. I’d even go as far as serving horseradish on the side, for a spicy little kick (just make sure it’s from a tube!).

Beet salad with eggs, green peas and dill mayonnaise

Serves 2 as a light meal, 4 as a side salad

for the beets:

  • 1 bunch raw baby beets (leaves still attached, if possible)
  • 1/2 small Spanish (red) onion, thinly sliced
  • good quality olive oil
  • aged balsamic vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • a drizzle of honey or rice malt syrup
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

for the salad:

  • 2-3 boiled eggs, sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup cooked green peas (preferably fresh)
  • 1 cup (packed) washed and dried baby spinach leaves
  • torn soft green herbs (optional, I used both parsley and mint)
  • extra dill, extra to serve
  • extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
  • freshly cracked black pepper

dill mayonnaise:

  • 1/2 cup (150g) homemade aïoli or whole-egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs finely chopped green olives
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (some chopped fresh chervil or tarragon wouldn’t go astray here)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

To cook the beets: preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (356 degrees f). Detach leaves from beetroot, wash the small, tender ones well and set them aside (you’ll add these to your salad later. Keep the rest of the beet greens!).

Wash your beetroot well under cold running water, trim any stray roots and tough bits of skin with a small, sharp knife. Pat beetroot dry with a paper towel, then cut them into even-sized wedges. Place them into a shallow, foil-lined baking tray then splash over some good olive oil, some aged balsamic, red wine vinegar, water, sea salt and cracked pepper (I don’t strictly follow any quantities here… basically, you want to create enough liquid for the beetroot to initially steam, then caramelise with a sticky, delicious glaze. Make sure there’s about 0.5-1cm of liquid covering the base of your tray before putting it in the oven). Toss to coat, then cover with another layer of foil.

foil

Place your tray into the preheated oven and cook for about 30 minutes until the beets start to soften. Remove the foil and add in your sliced onion, then return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the liquid has reduced, the onion is translucent and slightly browned and the beetroot is caramelised and soft. Remove the tray from them oven, then allow to cool.

Mayonnaise: while the beets are cooking, mix all of the ingredients for the dill mayo in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Set aside until you assemble your salad.

To assemble: I like to do this in layers. Start with a handful of spinach, a few of the larger beet greens, some soft herbs, peas, beets and caramelised onions. Dollop over a little of the mayonnaise, then carefully place over some rounds of egg. Repeat the process, finishing with some extra sprigs of dill weed and a drizzle of any pan juices from the beets and onions (this creates lovely pink splashes on the egg and mayonnaise. You can skip this step if you think it’s a little garish!).

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spiced lamb burgers with beetroot relish and hand-cut chips

donels

I love a good burger. There’s just something about a crisp-edged, juicy meat patty atop crusty bread with a myriad of cheeses, soft herbs and condiments. It’s portable, hand-held deliciousness, infinitely variable but perfect in its simplicity.

At present, my favourite burgers are made at a small South Fremantle cafe called Ootong and Lincoln. I was first introduced to this eclectic venue by my best friend Vicky (aka Hippy Vic) who has long held an obsession with their dukkah-crusted lentil burgers. Yep, lentil burgers. They’re absolutely delicious, even from the position of a well-entrenched carnivore.

Perfectly seasoned, crisp-edged and soft-centred, these lentil patties are house-made and coated in toasted dukkah before being piled onto a fresh roll with melting haloumi, soft greens and homemade relish. Have I made you hungry yet?

beetrootwhole beetrootgrated

Anyway, after that three paragraph speal, I’m here to tell you that I don’t have the secret recipe for Ootong’s lentil patties. Or their relish, for that matter (but they do sell their dukkah crust in jars on site at the cafe, uh… well, that’s only marginally helpful).

What I do have is a recipe for completely non-vegetarian lamb burgers with a quick, throw-together beetroot relish. Perfect for a delicious after-work dinner when you can’t get your tired ass to Ootong in Fremantle.

herbonion mortarpestle

This entire meal is cheap to make and ridiculously easy. In fact, I threw it together in about 20 minutes (discounting the cooking time). Begin with your potatoes; chop then boil them whilst you combine ingredients for your patty mixture. Mold into patties, then refrigerate whilst you start frying the chips. When the chips are in the oven, start your beetroot relish, then leave it to macerate whilst you fry your meat. Before you know it, everything’s on the plate.

burgercup chipbowl2

The original concept for these burgers was from taste.com.au. However, as per usual, I’ve bastardized everything according to my own specifications.

The recipes for the chips, patties and relish are entirely forgiving so I’d encourage you to play around with them as you see fit. Add some toasted pine nuts, feta or chopped parsley to the patties if you like. Want some extra spice on the chips? Add in some chilli flakes, lemon rind or a pinch of cayenne pepper. The relish is also hugely adaptable; I’ve made it with grated apple, red cabbage, poppy seeds, caramelised onion, with and without extra lemon rind and brown sugar. It’s also wonderful with pomegranate seeds, finely chopped coriander and crushed pistachios. Infinitely adaptable. Like most good food should be.

mincepattyls

Lamb Burgers

  • 500g good-quality lamb mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red Spanish onion, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
  • 2 generous tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • plain flour, to dust
  • olive oil, for frying

To assemble the burgers:

  • 4 crusty hamburger rolls
  • soft goats cheese
  • garlicky hummus
  • washed rocket leaves
  • beetroot relish
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • avocado, if desired

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl, ensuring that the aromatics are finely distributed.

ingredientspatty

With moist hands, separate mixture into four equal-sized portions. Flatten each portion in the palm of your hand into a rough circle, approximately 1.5cm thick.

patties

Place each patty onto a lined tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking (during this time, you can prepare your beetroot relish).

To cook: Preheat oven to 180 degrees C  (350 degrees f). Lightly dust each patty with plain flour and sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a heavy based, oven-safe frying pan. When oil starts to smoke, carefully place patties into the pan. Fry on each side until golden but not cooked through; transfer pan into oven and cook for another 5 minutes or until just cooked through.

pattiescook

Whilst still warm, top each patty with a few slices of soft goats cheese. Toast the burger buns if desired, spread bottom half with hummus (and top half with avocado if desired) then top with a goats-cheese-topped lamb patty. Dollop on some beetroot relish, top with fresh rocket, grind over some fresh black pepper. Serve with oven chips (and aioli for dipping, if desired).

relishjar

Quick Beetroot Relish

Makes roughly 1.5 cups. Serve any remaining relish on crostini with soft goats cheese, or on toasted sourdough with poached eggs, hummus and fresh rocket for breakfast.

  • 250g peeled, cooked beetroot, grated coarsely
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 ground sumac
  • handful of mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
  • good splash (approx 1 tsp) red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dark agave syrup or honey
  • extra virgin olive oil

Place chopped onion into a small bowl with the lemon juice. Mix well, then leave to macerate for 15 minutes. Drain well.

onionsoak2

In a medium sized bowl, combine the grated beetroot with the soaked onion, agave, red wine vinegar, olive oil and spices.

beetrootsaladingredientsMix well and allow to soak for 5 minutes. Mix in the mint just before serving (for a quick version, like I did, you can just dump everything into a bowl and mix it together; however the beetroot definitely benefits from marinating).

chipsrawHand-cut Chips

This amount serves 2 (allow around 200-250g potatoes per person)

  • 450g waxy potatoes; I used Ruby Lou (approx 3 medium potatoes)
  • 3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • smoked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil, for frying

Cut each potato into rough batons, around 1x1cm in width. Place in a pot of cold, salted water, then slowly bring to the boil.

potReduce heat slightly, allowing the potatoes to simmer until tender (but not falling apart). Drain well, then season with smoked sea salt and black pepper.

spudsteam

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees f). Heat oil in a large, heavy based oven-safe frying pan or oven tray. Add in the garlic cloves and herbs. When smoking, toss in the seasoned potatoes and allow to crisp lightly on all sides.

traygarlicherbs chipsfrying

Transfer the tray or pan into the oven. Continue cooking the chips, turning them regularly until golden and crisp on all sides.

clipsdone

Drain on paper towels prior to serving with assembled burgers.

chipbowl doneplatterEat, padawan. Eat. I know you want to.

*by the way, for those who read the Appreciation Post about Aaron, the board below is one of a set of two that he made for me. I still haven’t posted a proper shot of them, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.

goatscheese

done

roasted beet salad with walnuts and chèvre

beetknife

It’s not exactly a secret, but… well, I’m a little bit in love with cheese. Actually, make that a lot. Give me a glass of red, some crackers and some cheese on a balmy evening and I’ll be in my version of dairy heaven. Well, except if the cheese of choice is Kraft Singles, as that’s not really cheese at all (ah, I’ll rant about this topic another day). In terms of recipe adaptability, my new favourite cheese is the deliciously creamy chèvre. It’s characteristically piquant flavour is adaptable enough to add to a range of dishes, from stuffed mushrooms, crepes and salads to creamy, semi-sweet desserts.

What, might you ask, is chèvre? Well, although it sounds fancy, it’s just the French name for soft, pressed curd cheese that’s been made with goat’s milk. It’s creamy, white and full of medium-chain fatty acids such as caproic, caprylic and capric acid, all of which contribute to a slightly tart flavour. I love it, and regularly consume it in a very simple fashion: spread thickly onto toasted sourdough, with fresh Italian parsley and a drizzle of lemon oil. It’s also fabulous in any recipe that calls for feta cheese, but make sure that you buy a medium-firm variety or you’ll end up with milky goat goo (don’t you love that word?) throughout your salad.

Image credit: Leela at 'She Simmers'. Click for a recipe on how to make your own homemade chèvre

Image credit: Leela at ‘She Simmers’. Click for a recipe on how to make your own homemade chèvre.

For those of you who are deterred by the fact that chèvre comes from a goat rather than a cow, let me explain a few benefits:

  • Goat milk typically contains less lactose than cow’s milk, which makes it favourable for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.
  • It’s protein composition is more similar to human milk than cow’s milk, so it’s often the milk of choice for the elderly, or children who are intolerant of certain proteins or sugars in traditional dairy milk
  • On average, goat cheese tends to contain 20% less calories and fat than cow’s milk cheese. It also contains shorter fat molecules that are easier to digest into ready-to-use energy.
  • It’s also lower in saturated fat, salt and cholesterol. In an average comparison of 1-0z. of cheddar cheese to 1-oz. goat’s cheese, cheddar comes up at 9g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 170mg sodium and 25mg cholesterol. Goat’s cheese scores 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 65mg sodium and no cholesterol. At all. How good is that?
  • Goat’s cheese doesn’t contain as much protein as pressed cheddar, as it’s less concentrated. But… if you look at the raw product, milk, goat’s milk contains an average of 8.7g protein, whereas cow’s milk contains 8.1g. In a balanced diet containing other sources of protein, the difference is negligible.
  • Other nutrients and vitamins readily available in goat’s cheese include tryptophan (an amino acid), phosphorus, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin A (47% higher than cow’s cheese), niacin (three times as much as cow’s milk), selenium (an antioxidant), potassium and vitamin B6 (25% more than cow’s cheese). Goat cheese also contains a moderate level of probiotics (which aid gastrointestinal health) and lots of calcium (which is essential for bone health, amongst other things).
  • Last but not least, because goat products are often not as mass-produced as cow products, they’re less likely to have nasty synthetic hormones and other additives that can cause allergic reactions. That’s definitely a good thing.

beets1

If you’ve looked at the picture above (yeah, that one of the beetroot) you’re probably wondering why I’ve spent the majority of this post talking about the benefits of goat’s cheese. Well… when eating some warm, crusty bread adorned with goat’s cheese, extra virgin olive oil and a splash of aged balsamic, I guess other things pale in comparison. But, I digress… both beetroot and goat’s cheese are very relevant to this recipe post, as we’ll be roasting this vibrant root vegetable in a deliciously sticky glaze before combining it with soft goat’s cheese, crunchy toasted walnuts, fresh herbs and balsamic dressing (if you’re wondering, beetroot is also very good for you. Take a look at the stats, here).

Below, you’ll find my go-to recipe for this classic roasted beetroot, walnut and chèvre (I felt like being French again) salad. It’s delicious on it’s own, with some added quinoa or as an accompaniment to a crispy-skinned salmon steak. If you feel like experimenting, check the ‘notes’ section below. I’ve included some of my favourite recipe variations which will hopefully be a delicious addition to your table over the festive Summer months.

Thanks again for reading, and apologies that my estimated week (for my next recipe post) ended up being almost two. Jouir de!

saladmont

Roasted Beetroot, Walnut and Chèvre Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Serves 2 as a substantial salad, 4 as an accompaniment.

*When making this recipe, please keep in mind that beetroot stains everything. Everything, including skin, chopping boards, clothing and unvarnished wooden benchtops. Please make sure that you handle them respectfully and cautiously, with gloves if desired. But despite this warning, any incidental staining is definitely worth it.

  • 1 bunch raw baby beets (leaves still attached, if possible)
  • 1/2 small Spanish (red) onion
  • 1 cup (packed) washed and dried baby spinach leaves
  • a handful of parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, roasted then lightly crushed
  • 80g (or more, depending upon your preference) fresh chèvre (soft goat’s cheese), crumbled
  • good quality olive oil, to roast
  • aged balsamic vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • a drizzle of honey or rice malt syrup
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, to dress

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (356 degrees f). Detach leaves from beetroot, wash the small, tender ones well and set them aside (keep the rest of the beet greens! Separate the leaves, finely chop the stalks and saute in olive oil with some finely chopped shallot and a splash of water. Simmer until tender, add some salt (and a knob of butter, if you’re feeling generous) and serve… maybe with a poached egg on top!).

beetmont

Wash your beetroot well under cold running water, trimming any stray roots and tough bits of skin with a small, sharp knife. Pat beetroot dry with a paper towel, then cut them into even-sized wedges. Place them into a shallow, foil-lined baking tray then splash over some good olive oil, some aged balsamic, red wine vinegar, water, sea salt and cracked pepper (I don’t strictly follow any quantities here… basically, you want to create enough liquid for the beetroot to initially steam, then caramelise with a sticky, delicious glaze. Make sure there’s about 0.5-1cm of liquid covering the base of your tray before putting it in the oven). Toss to coat, then place your tray into the preheated oven to cook, turning occasionally, for about 40-60 minutes.

roastingmont

Half way through the cooking time, add in your sliced Spanish onion to caramelise. Your beetroot will be done when the vinegars have reduced, the onion is translucent and slightly browned, and the beetroot can be pierced easily with a knife. Remove the tray from them oven, then allow to cool.

traymont

Now, here’s the easy part: assemble your salad. Place your beetroot, the reserved tender beetroot leaves and spinach in a shallow bowl. Add in three quarters of the walnuts and chèvre. In a separate bowl (or your oven tray, if sufficiently cooled), add the beetroot and onion to your chopped parsley leaves. Toss well to coat, then add to the rest of your ingredients, including a splash more olive oil, balsamic and red wine vinegar. Scatter over the remaining walnuts, chèvre and some freshly cracked black pepper to garnish. Enjoy alone or as an accompaniment to your favourite protein.

salad

Notes:

  • Now you’ve mastered the basics of a beetroot salad, you can adapt this recipe to your individual preferences. Flavours that work wonderfully with beetroot include mint, feta, fresh green peas, yoghurt, crème fraîche or sour cream, Moroccan spices and other root vegetables such as sweet potato or carrots. I’ve made this recipe with additional roasted sweet potato, a sprinkling of dukkah and a yoghurt dressing instead of chèvre. Delicious.
  • An alternate way to roast your beetroot is to wrap it whole, in foil with a good splash of water and red wine vinegar. Place in the oven and roast for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until the vegetable can be easily pierced with a fork. Peel the beetroot, with gloved hands (I am talking from personal experience – beetroot stains take hours of scrubbing to remove), then discard the skins. You can then cut your beetroot into wedges for the above recipe, or finely dice it and add it to lots of finely chopped mint with some finely sliced raw Spanish onion, crumbled chèvre and a splash of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche. So good with steamed salmon or gravadlax (Swedish dill-cured salmon. So delicious).
  • Beetroot also makes a wonderful base for healthy, vibrantly-hued dips. Roast your beetroot in foil as above, peel then add to a food processor with whatever flavours you desire: Moroccan spices, yoghurt, crème fraîche or sour cream (I like using a bit of both), ground walnuts, fresh mint or parsley, lemon juice and a slug of olive oil. All of these flavours work remarkably well with the beetroot, so definitely experiment and see what combination you like best. My friend Caryse also makes an amazing beetroot dip with pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan… I still need to wheedle out the recipe but it was deliciously good with grilled chicken, sourdough toasts and soft double brie.

bottlemont leaves

Uh, just one more point about my beloved cheese. And a TV show. You may or may not have heard of The Mighty Boosh but this absolute genius-of-a-show was the brainchild of comedians Julian Barrett and Noel Fielding. I’ll let you read up on other details via the link above, but… for the sake of novelty value, I’m going to conclude this post with one of my favourite scenes of all time. Indeed, it is cheese related. Indeed, it is legendary. It’s protein, in video form. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8kkwXnTmMc

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