I enjoy living where I do, out in the boondock suburbs of my city, because it is so countrified. AND because of the bountiful and cheap produce of (nearly) all varieties here. When you live in an area with a fair percentage of migrants who love food – Indian, Nepali, S.E. Asian, Middle Eastern and various African people – then food is always going to be at the forefront of any shopping precinct.
But there are certain things that I can’t lay my hands on here. Good cheeses. Really good olive oils. Some lentils not common to those cuisines, like Puy and Beluga lentils. And definitely not Yuzu.
I have solved much of this problem with a 4 – 6 weekly trip into the Central Market, the main area of providore type shops in our city, stocking up on all sorts of things, and grabbing artisan bread, fresh cheeses, vanilla beans, horseradish root, organic vegetables and other not-to-be-seen-locally items that feel like a huge treat. But it also reminds me to be so grateful of where I live when I see tiny tomatoes selling for $9/kg inn the Market and I can get them nearby my home for $2/kg. Oh the great socio-economic divide!
So today’s recipe has its origins in one from Ottolenghi (in Plenty More), but Yuzu, a central ingredient in his recipe, is not to be found either locally or in the Central Market. So I have tinkered with it quite a bit, substituting cumquat juice and rind (as I have cumquats in my new garden — and they are readily available in the local Asian grocery), and lime juice. Use all lime if you can’t source cumquats. I also change out the greens. Ottolenghi loves to use baby spinach and rocket but I prefer to use leaves of herbs and vegetables growing in the garden, including peppery and bitter ones like nasturtium, moringa leaves, purslane and watercress. Use soft herbs and leaves or substitute with the spinach and rocket, whatever is more convenient for you.
The salad uses beetroot simmered until tender then cut into wedges, along with raw beetroot sliced absolutely paper thin. I have to thank a new food processor for the paper thin slices – I was over the moon when I saw the result. Mandolins are also good for thin vegetable slices – I’ve been using mine for 25 years or so, and it is less washing up than a food processor!
By the way, I froze the horseradish from the market (after making Crushed New Potato with Yoghurt and Horseradish), and really can’t wait to make today’s recipe again with horseradish rather than citrus. Imagine!
It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar recipes include Puy Lentils with Ragout of Mushrooms, Roasted Beetroot with Maple Dressing, Beetroot Salsa with Yoghurt, and Beetroot in a Herb Dressing.
Browse our Beetroot Salads, and indeed, all of our Beetroot recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.
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