Monday, 3 February 2014

Beetroot and Toasted Sunflower Seed Salad


Beetroot Salad Title

Valentines Challenge:  #2 

Salad + Winter = don't usually make much sense!

No. I'm not going nuts, at least I don't think I am!! This totally works this time of year and I'll tell you why.

1. People are still feeling a little bloated after Christmas
2. It's the most depressing time of the year. It gets dark quickly (unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, hold on, I'm getting to you!!) and therefore people don't want to waste time mucking around over making food. Therefore, quick, easy, simple to prepare dishes are a win.
3. If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, well it's summertime, you should be eating salad anyway.
4. The hot sticky seeds are warm anyway.
5. Salads always work as a starter!

I won't go on.

You should definitely give this a go. I promise it will be worth your while.

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When I was little, the only way I ever ate Beetroot was pickled. I didn't think it was a vegetable you could eat with your dinner!

I love pickled beetroot. In sandwiches, in salads, on a fork, whatever! Having said that, I'm still not 100% convinced about eating beetroot as a vegetable. Once, years ago, I went on a heart foundation diet, one of the meals had beetroot as a vegetable with dinner. I think Beetroot has a beautiful mellow taste, and maybe that's why I don't like it so much without vinegar!!!

This is my grown-up salad, completely inspired by childhood pickles!

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Why yes, I do have a lot of Sunflower Seeds, and nope, I've no idea what on earth I'm going to do with all of them! I add them to bread, but I don't like eating them as a snack.

Occasionally at parties, I've put them out with peanuts, but where peanuts get eaten, seeds, don't. I'm not sure where my inspiration came from, I think I was watching an Australian cookery program, and there was a young man making peanut brittle, then I was hungry, and Agave was the healthier option to add to the seeds. It works, I was actually really happy with the results. 

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This is the cutest little frying pan. 

I don't know what it is actually supposed to be used for. Only my younger brother really likes eggs, and always leaves dirty frying pans for me to clean, so my logic was, a smaller pan = less of a struggle for me. I bought it for him as a little gift last valentines day. I know. I'm a wonderful sister!

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I made such a mess with the Balsamic. It wouldn't be me if it was mess free, but I was trying to show the type of spritzer I have the Balsamic in. One of the best ways I've encountered, it prevents too much Balsamic and an overload of flavour!

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As I said in my first Valentines day post, I'm not big into it, but I've now challenged myself to see how many different red and pink dishes I can make before February 14th! 

If I were going to cook a dinner for my Valentine, I think this would be a great starter, served with some home-made bread! yum!

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I'm hungry now!! 



Recipe
1/2 Lemon
1 Beet
1 Tbsp Sunflower Seed
1 Tbsp Agave
1 Handful Rocket Leaves (See Notes)
6 French Beans
Balsamic (See Notes)
1. Cook the Beet however you prefer. I recommend wrapping in foil, and roasting in the oven for about an hour at 180° until tender. Allow to cool, then rub gently to remove the skins. (See Notes)
2. Juice the Lemon.
3. Grind the Sunflower Seeds to a coarse dust (See Notes)
4. Add to a frying pan and heat gently. Do not add any oil to the pan, simply dry toast them.
5. Add both the Lemon and the Beet to a blender (See Notes), blend to a smooth paste.
6. Slice the Beans along their length to expose the peas within, then into approx. 1'' segments.
7. On a serving plate, place the Rocket. Arrange the Beans with the leaves.
8. To the toasted Seed, add the Agave to create a paste-like consistency. Spoon this over the salad.
9. Spoon the Beet mixture onto the salad and add the Balsamic.




Notes 
I usually cook Beets all at the same time, because I can't really think of a time where we'd want to eat raw Beets!! Therefore we usually have an abundance of cooked Beets. Most supermarkets will sell cooked Beets anyway, usually sold in vacuum sealed packets. This, surprisingly is quite a good way to buy Beets (it means you don't dye yourself pink in the process of cooking them!!!) and is usually really cost effective. If you are determined to cook them yourself, there are a few ways of doing so, I just prefer the roasting method.

When grinding the Seeds, you can use a pestle and mortar. . . however I use the tall cup on my magic bullet, then whilst the Seed is toasting, I puree the Beets in the same cup I used to pulse the Seed. (Saves on washing up! always a bonus!)

You can use whatever Balsamic you like, I used a Fig Balsamic, which is quite liquid-y as opposed to the thick goopy balsamic you can get. I have this in a spray bottle, this means it mists the salad reaallllly nicely.

Substitutions
Rocket Leaves - Obviously this is just the salad that I personally like, and you can change the salad leaves you use. I just think that the stronger taste of the Rocket goes really nicely with the mellow Beet flavour.

Stay in touch with me, either on twitter or by email! I'll always be ready to talk.

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