Saturday 23 November 2013

Roasted Golden Beetroot with Spinach, Bacon & Ruby Grapefruit

A warm salad of slow-roasted beetroot with wilted spinach and crisped bacon bits, sprinkled with olive oil and flecks of ruby grapefruit.

Roasted Golden Beetroot with Spinach & Bacon
Roasted Golden Beetroot with Spinach & Bacon.

Golden beetroot is a hybrid popular these days among chefs and foodsters. I've tasted it a few times in restaurants, and it hasn't blown my skirt up. In each dish I've tried, this vegetable has been curiously tasteless, with none of the bloody metallic depth of ordinary red beetroot. (Then again, these dishes consisted of pretentious stacks, or were arrayed in wafer-thin raw slices and topped off with 'foam' or 'air'. )

However, the organic specimens in the picture above knocked my socks off with their glorious sunset colours and sweet, earthy flavours.

I bought these beauties in a loose bunch from my local Woolworths in Hout Bay. I was very pleased to see them on the supermarket shelf, because I've only ever come across them at farmers' markets. I also bought a bunch of regular beetroot, and hurried home to sling them in the oven.

Roasted Golden Beetroot with Spinach & Bacon
Open-roasting red and golden beetroot with a little olive oil and thyme.

Slow-roasting is the way to go with beetroot, I reckon. There is quite a lot of shrinkage, but this method brilliantly concentrates and intensifies their flavour.

I was planning to make a salad with fresh greens, but the rocket, watercress and lettuce loafing around in my fridge's veggie drawer didn't look perky. Instead, I wilted a big bunch of fresh Swiss chard in a pan, squeezed it dry, then arranged it on a plate along with some hot bacon bits (for smokiness and crunch) and a handful of dried cranberries (for sweetness). Then I doused everything with olive olive oil and a few dabs of good balsamic vinegar.

Roasted Golden Beetroot with Spinach & Bacon
A bunch of beautiful golden beetroot

Beads of blood-red ruby grapefruit are a final and pleasing finish to this salad. This is a flavour combination that wouldn't normally have occurred to me, but as it happened I'd just cut up a grapefruit on the same board I was using to slice the beetroot. What an astonishing mouth-surprise it was to taste bacon, beetroot and grapefruit together as I picked bits off my chopping board.

You can leave this out if you like, but I think you will be most intrigued by the exciting spark of the grapefruit.

If you can't find golden beetroot, feel confident using ordinary red beetroot in this recipe.

Roasted Golden Beetroot with Spinach, Bacon & Ruby Grapefruit

4 golden beetroot
4 red beetroot
4 Tbsp (60 ml) olive oil, for roasting
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and milled black pepper
2 large bunches of spinach or Swiss Chard
8 rashers streaky bacon
2 Tbsp (60 ml) dried cranberries [optional]
a ruby grapefuit

For the dressing: 

5 Tbsp (75 ml) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 ml) good balsamic vinegar
salt and milled black pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 190 ÂșC.  Trim the beetroot stalks so just 1 cm remains, then cut them in half lengthways. Place cut-side up in a roasting tray lined with baking paper.

Sprinkle with the olive oil and thyme sprigs, then season to taste with salt and pepper.  Roast, uncovered, for about two hours, or until the beetroot looks slightly shrunken and is very soft.

Remove the beetroot from the oven and set on the counter for 10 minutes, or until they are cool enough to handle with bare fingers. Trim off the stalks and any hairy roots. If you like, you can rub off the skins at this point, but I don't bother with that if I'm using young beets. Cut the beetroot into wedges.

Peel the grapefuit, remove two segments, peel off the membranes and pull these into very small pieces.  Set aside.

Twenty minutes before the beetroot finishes roasting, thoroughly rinse the spinach or Swiss chard, trim off any fibrous stalks and put it, still wet, into a large saucepan. Turn on a medium-high heat under the pot and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the leaves are soft and wilted.  Tip the leaves into a colander, let them drain for five minutes, then squeeze them between the palms of your hands to remove any excess moisture. Set aside.

While the spinach is cooling, cut the bacon rashers into a fine dice and fry them over a high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on a piece of kitchen paper.

Arrange the warm spinach leaves in a circle on a platter and top them with the beetroot wedges.  Sprinkle over the cranberries, grapefruit flecks and hot bacon pieces.

Dribble a little olive oil over the salad, and pour the rest around its edges to form a golden puddle.  Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over the top.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a starter. 

Roasted Golden Beetroot with Spinach & Bacon
A good fruity olive oil and a few droplets of balsamic vinegar are
all that's necessary to dress this warm salad.

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Kit said...

This looks beautiful and festive - perfect to bridge the gap between the rich winter flavours of the Northern hemisphere and our summer Christmas weather. Now I just need to persuade my family to eat beetroot!

Jane-Anne said...

Thank you very much Kit, as always.

Zirkie said...

What a lovely salad, Jane!! I have never seen these beetroot at our Woolies! :(

anna @ annamayeveryday said...

Lovely! I love roasted beetroot and we have lots around at the moment!