Friday, 26 August 2011

Salad Days: Beetroot, green bean and feta salad

The eagle (owl) eyed amongst you will notice that there is, no photo of this meal. That is because this is quite possible the least photogenic thing I have ever made. Literally. I always thought that casseroles with their brown colours and squishy ingredients were unattractive, but that was before I made this salad. To read the ingredients you would think (as did I) that it had the potential to be stunning, that the verdant greens of the leaves and beans would contrast stunningly with the white goat's cheese and ruby beetroot, all annointed by the faint pink blush of the dressing.

However what I ended up was a tasty mush of goats cheese squished over the beans and leaves, with the beetroot that bloody red that's almost black. The Chanel Rouge Noir of vegetables. I would absolutely recommend you make and try this salad as it is gorgeously tasty, but photograph the ingredients beforehand - do some tasteful arranging on a wooden chopping board, or worktop.

This recipe is a Riverford veg one. I came to it following the second delivery this season of beetroot. I cooked the first batch and left it in the oven to cool, wrapped in foil. At which point I promptly forgot about it for the best part of the rest of the week. Yes, my name is Penelope and I have scatty, slatternish tendencies. What a waste! I was so cross with myself as I love beetroot - there's something about the earthiness of the flavour that seems such a contrast to it's sweetness - which is why I've often used it in cakes, in a similar way to the courgette brownies I made here - which, oddly was also a Riverford recipe.

On a side note, what's quite nice about going back to that post is that my photography skills are actually beginning to improve - at least slightly!

So today Penelope's Pantry brings you... the world's least attractive salad:

Summer salad with beetroot, goat’s cheese + Frenchbeans

Roast or boil the beetroot - to do that, wash and trim them (keep the leaves for the salad) then place in a dish in a preheated oven (200 degreesish) for about 45 minutes. Riverford suggest adding water to the dish and covering with foil - but in the Pantry we fly by the seat of our pants and just wallop them in and take them out when they're softened. This will take about 45-60 mins, depending on size Oh and if you don't want to go out looking like you've committed murder, then wear clean marigolds, or latex gloves. Scrubbing with salt and lemon juice works if you ignore this advice. Said as one who knows!


300g mixed summer salad leaves
150g French beans, trimmed
200g cooked beetroot, cut into 2cm cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
Salt + pepper
100g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
Salad leaves - I used the beetroot tops and some bagged salad that had come in my Riverford box last week.


1. Wash the salad leaves and dry well. Cook the beans in boiling salted water for 3–4 mins, until just tender, then drain, refresh in cold water and drain again.
2. Put them in a large bowl with the salad leaves and beetroot.
3. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and some seasoning together to make a dressing.
4. Toss with the salad then sprinkle with goat’s cheese.

Step 4 is where I came unstuck. My goat's cheese didn't exactly sprinkle per se. More squished. Maybe you have a more gentle touch than me. Here's hoping yours doesn't turn out mushy as it's lovely, really fantastic contrasting tastes and textuertures.

I used the beetroot while still warm, partly due to time pressures, partly because that was what I fancied. As the other ingredients were fridge cold or room temperature this again made for a nice contrast.

The Riverford recipe suggests that this serves 4 as an accompaniment to lamb - but I had it as a standalone dish, but this meant it did 2 portions instead of the 4.

Other suggestions are to swap out the beetroot when it's not in season for butternut squash and I'll definitely be trying that, although I'll have to ask a beauty blogger for some help with nail polish names to match that!

Next up - some jams and excitingly my first jellies; plum, and crabapple and mint.  

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