There is so much good stuff in this “almost superfood” salad that it makes you feel very healthy and conscientious indeed. Served as it is, it can be a very substantial meal – just scatter a few roasted hazelnuts and/or chunks of creamy goat’s cheese over the top, and you need nothing else.
Did you know that I grew up calling beetroot, red beet? That name seems to have disappeared in Australia, although a quick search on google confirms that at least some people, in some parts of the world, retain that name. I wonder if it came from my mother, whose family contained many German immigrants. Perhaps it is a European thing.
The star of this dish is indeed the blanched then quick-pickled beetroot, and its contrast with the slightly bitter pea shoots. Rather than the hour-long boil or bake, eating beetroot raw or quickly sauteed or blanched is a healthy and very delicious alternative. The beetroot retains a bite or crunch that adds textural layers to a dish. Everything can be prepared in advance for this salad, kept in the fridge, and combined at the last moment.
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.
Beetroot, Avocado and Pea Shoot Salad
4 medium raw beetroots (around 350g in total)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tblspn sherry vinegar
4 Tblspn olive oil, plus a little extra to finish
0.5 tspn caster sugar
1-3 tspn savoury chilli sauce or paste (Tabasco or Sriracha is fine, Harissa also, or any home made non-sweet chilli sauce or paste)
2 medium avocados, peeled and thinly sliced
10g coriander leaves
10g mint leaves
20g pea shoots (or use lamb’s lettuce or other soft lettuce)
150g peas blanched and refreshed (or use edamame or peeled broad beans,, quickly blanched and refreshed)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel the beetroot and slice them very thinly, around 2-3mm thick – if you have one, use a mandolin. (If your beets are large, halve them after peeling, then cut into slices.)
Put the beetroot in a pot with plenty of boiling water and simmer for three to five minutes, until semi-cooked; it should still be crunchy. Drain and put in a large bowl.
Add the red onion, vinegar, oil, sugar, chilli sauce, sea salt and black pepper to the beetroot bowl and toss everything together gently – your hands are the best tool for this. Leave to one side for 10-15 minutes, then taste and see if you want to add more sugar, salt or vinegar – it needs to be sharp and sweetish.
When you’re ready to serve, spread half the beetroot mixture on a large platter or in a shallow bowl. Top with half the avocado, coriander, mint, pea shoots and broad beans.
Add the rest of the beetroot and arrange the remaining ingredients on top. Drizzle with a little oil and serve.