Beetroot and asparagus salad with rocket, hazelnuts and goat’s cheese

Serves 4 to 6

Beetroot and asparagus salad
Photo: William Meppem

In the northern hemisphere, a large percentage of sugar production is derived from the sugar beet and it is often used for fodder too, so it has a bad name. Beetroot, from the same family as the chard, does contain a great deal of sugar, but this only serves to make it a delicious vegetable and one of Australia’s favourites.

Ingredients

  • 4 beetroot, washed and tailed
  • 150 g (½ cup) caster sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 bunches asparagus, woody parts cut off
  • 100 g baby rocket, washed
  • 70 g (½ cup) hazelnuts
  • 250 g (2 cups) semi-aged goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • 4 red eschalots, sliced in rings
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) red wine vinegar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil or hazelnut oil

Method

Put the beetroot in a saucepan large enough for them to just fit the base. Add the sugar, vinegar, salt and enough water to cover by a couple of centimetres.

Bring to a slow simmer over a low–medium heat and cook until tender when pierced with a small knife, topping up the water to ensure the beetroot stays submerged.

While the beetroot are cooking, which will take about an hour, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and plunge the asparagus in it. Cook for a minute, making sure you do not overcook them. Scoop them out and cool them under cold running water, then reserve.

Blanch the rocket for 10 seconds in the same water. Drain and cool under cold running water and shake dry.

In a frying pan heated to medium heat, toast the hazelnuts for 5 minutes. Put into a mortar and crush slightly with the pestle. Set aside.

When cool enough to handle, peel the beetroot (using disposable gloves to avoid staining your hands) and cut into four pieces.

Arrange the beetroot on a small platter, scatter the asparagus on top, followed by the rocket, crumbled goat’s cheese, sliced eschalots and crushed hazelnuts.

In a small bowl, mix the red wine vinegar with the oil, and season.

Drizzle over the salad and serve at the table.

Serge’s notes: You have an infinite choice of variations: try substituting tomatoes, roast red capsicum or even roast Spanish onion for the beetroot, and use green beans, flat beans or broccoli for the asparagus. Instead of using rocket you could use watercress or even spinach.

 

Recipe: Serge Dansereau