BEETROOT – a small word that elicits a huge response. Few people are in the neutral camp when it comes to this veggie. You have your loathers and your lovers and that’s pretty much it. I have nothing empirical to base this on, but I figure when we hear the word, most of us automatically think of bottled beetroot in vinegar. While I may have abhorred this as a child, I’ve come to appreciate this rather basic treatment of these purple beauties. But really, beetroot is about so much more. It’s deep earthy richness is quite unique and the perfect carrier for so many flavours.
Think blue cheese or goat’s cheese, think sour cream and chives, think mackerel or smoked salmon. They all work, but I think beetroot has a particular affinity for heady spices like cumin and coriander.
So that’s what I used in this beetroot salad, along with a gorgeous harissa blend I found in the Woolies spice isle. Warm spice, chilli bite and cooling mint. Perfect. Serve this carrot and beetroot salad as a side at your next braai or on its own with pita and tzatziki as a light vegetarian lunch.
All you need is…
bunch of beetroot
2-3 large carrots
large handful of fresh mint (whole leaves if they are small, otherwise sliced into thin slivers)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
½ tsp powdered cumin
¼ tsp powdered coriander
½ tsp powdered harissa blend (look at Woolworths – replace with a pinch of chilli flakes if you can’t find any)
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs white wine vinegar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Cook the beetroot by boiling them (unpeeled) in a large pot of water until soft. (I actually think roasting them produces better flavour, but these puppies are dense and take forever to roast. Who has the time.) Drain and cool them, then peel. If you’re worried about stained fingers, wear surgical gloves for this bit. I couldn’t be bothered.
Peel and grate the carrots. Alternately cut them into long thin strips using your veggie peeler. Put the spices in a non-stick pan and heat through for a few seconds just until you smell them. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar, oil, salt and sugar. Whisk briefly to combine all the dressing ingredients. Combine the carrots and beetroot, pour over the dressing and scatter over the mint and pumpkin seeds.