Roasted beetroot salad, with goats cheese and walnuts, is the perfect side dish for a BBQ. Simple to make, it transports well for a meal with friends. It can also be served with loads of crusty bread as a hearty vegetarian main.
When I was a child beetroot came in tins. Perfect circles, soaked in sweet vinegar that masked the true earthiness of the vegetable. Every steak sandwich or burger came with a slice of beetroot, tucked between the salad and the meat, that had to be extricated before the meal could start. If you were really unlucky, the beetroot juices had seeped into the bread, turning it blood red and soggy.
I avoided beetroot for a long time, the childhood memories firmly at the forefront of my mind. A few years ago, however, I was offered roasted beetroot and found myself in a position in which it would have been impolite to refuse. So I ate it. What a revelation. Freshly cooked beetroot bears no resemblance at all to the pickled slices I remembered of old.
Beetroot has become so well loved in our house that we now even grow our own. I love the deep concentration of flavour that is derived from roasting the roots whole. Roasted beetroot lends itself wonderfully to salads as it does not break apart readily and tastes as good cold as it does hot. The only thing to be wary of is that it will turn all your other ingredients deep red, which is fine if that is the look you’re going for. Just consider this small factor when adding beetroot to a dish.
This salad is a perfect accompaniment to an Australia Day BBQ. It pairs well with red meat and I have successfully transported it, without it spilling all over the inside of the car, on more than one occasion. If the fast food ads for burger chains are to be believed, beetroot is quintessentially Australian. Stick a slice of pickled beetroot in a burger and suddenly it becomes an “Aussie Burger”. So a whole salad of the humble vegetable should make you a very patriotic Australian indeed.
- 1kg medium beetroot, washed but not peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- A few sprigs of thyme
- Red wine vinegar
- Olive oil, salt & pepper
- ¼ cup water
- 3 Tablespoons walnut oil
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
- 1 kg Roasted beetroot
- 150g rocket leaves
- 150g goats cheese
- ⅓ cup roasted walnuts, chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C
- Place the beetroot, garlic cloves and thyme into a baking dish.
- Add a splash of red wine vinegar to the tray and drizzle olive oil over the beetroot.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the water into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Cover the baking dish with alfoil, ensuring that it is well sealed, and place in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.
- The beetroot are ready when a metal skewer slides easily through the centre.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Slide your fingers, applying slight pressure, over the beetroot to remove the skins. They should slip off easily.
- Proceed with the salad whilst the beetroot is still warm.
- Whisk together the walnut oil and red wine vinegar in a large bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the still-warm roasted beetroot into 2cm cubes and drop into the dressing. Mix thoroughly to ensure the beetroot is completely coated in the dressing and allow to cool completely.
- Arrange the rocket on a serving platter, then spoon the beetroot into the centre of the rocket leaves.
- Crumble the goats cheese over the top of the beetroot.
- Scatter the walnuts over the goats cheese.
I suggest you taste the beetroot before you toss it with the dressing, as some varieties are quite sweet. If your beetroot is very sweet, then add more vinegar to the dressing to balance out the flavours. The vinegar should be evident in the dressing before you add the beetroot.
Olive oil can be readily substituted for the walnut oil. Don't buy walnut oil specifically for this recipe. It is just as good without it.
P.S. Love Roasted Beetroot? Check out my Beetroot and Feta Tarte Tartin.