Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Grain salad with golden beetroot, apple and hazelnuts

Last week I lost my appetite. The cause was nothing too dramatic, just your garden variety head cold. But I couldn't get enthused about cooking and pretty well ate nothing but soup from Monday to Friday. As it abated, approaching the weekend, I began to feel like actually eating rather than just sipping from a spoon - food that made me feel like less of an invalid but wasn't too much of an afront to my dulled tastebuds and delicate system. As luck would have it, I happened on a bunch of golden beetroot. 

Granted my excitement threshold was dangerously low due to being stuck at home in bed for a week, but it was a bit like finding the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the (wildly less popular) vegetable version. I'd learned to make this salad last year in Copenhagen where golden beetroot were as prevalent as the red sort we're used to here in Australia, sliced up on our burgers, and staining our clothing pink. The taste and texture are the same, but the colour... the colour! Subtle, where the other is strident. Glowing gradations of gold. 

The beetroot is roasted, then tossed with cooked grains, toasted hazelnuts and diced apple and the lot doused in a slightly sweet, lightly acidic dressing. It's chewy and crisp, crunchy and clean. You can use any sort of grain you like - I used farro - and if you can't get your hands on the golden sort, regular old beetroot would be fine, though your salad will be somewhat more pink. In any case, this feels like fighting food, as if you're getting better, stronger just by eating it, which is, in a sense, the real golden ticket. You can't say that about chocolate.

Grain salad with golden beetroot, apple and hazelnuts
Adapted from a recipe by Mia Irene Kristensen of CPH Good Food

To roast the beetroot, drizzle each bulb with a tiny bit of olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake on a tray in a hot oven (180 deg C) for 1-1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the vegetables. Cook grains according to packet instructions. The quantity below serves four as a side.

bunch of golden beetroot, peeled, roasted and cut into bite-size pieces
150g grains (eg: farro, barley, freekah, rye, spelt), boiled
1 apple, peeled and diced (Granny Smiths are good)
parsely or cress
handful of toasted hazelnuts, chopped roughly (you could also use pepitas)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
honey, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk liquid ingredients together in a small bowl (beginning with the oil) and set aside.

Mix the grains with the vinaigrette and toss in the beetroot, apple and pepitas/nuts.

Scatter with cress/parsley just before serving.

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