Wednesday, February 15, 2006

ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday #7:In the Pink - Beetroot Cocktail

As part of sweetnicks' weekly appeal to eat a healthier diet - at least every Tuesday - and just in time for Valentine’s Day:

Beetroot Cocktail... Well, as you can probably see, it’s more of a starter masquerading as a cocktail. It was originally inspired by a sudden yearning for Danish Herring Salad when I saw my jar of baby beetroot in the fridge. I also had uncooked beetroot but that was reserved for a beetroot curry, and this Herring Salad is a vinegary affair, so pickled beetroots are just right.
Of course, I had no herring in the house, but I concluded that it wasn’t the herring I was after (besides, it has far too many calories...), it was the pink, creamy sauce with gherkins and tart apples. So I concocted the following.

2-3 pickled baby beetroots, cubed
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and cubed
diced onion or shallot
Philadelphia light
juice of 1 orange
pickled jalapenos
cumin and coriander seeds, pounded as finely as possible with pestle and mortar
fresh mint, chopped finely and for decoration

At least I think that’s all I used. I’m vague on the exact amount of Philadelphia and mayonnaise because it was a gradual process of not letting either the mayonnaise taste or the chalkiness of the cheese dominate. I used an orange because it had to go – lemon juice would be an alternative though it might make it too acidic. I replaced the gherkins with the jalapenos for a bit more kick, and that worked a treat. Cumin and coriander are perfect partners for beetroot, so they are a must. (The powdered variety might work, too.) Mint complements beetroot really well, but obviously, fresh coriander would also have fitted, and I bet dill would work a treat.

I loved it, and Tom - who hates beetroot, and rather suspected the striking colour could only be achieved by adding the detested tuber - also thought it was rather nice!! Wow!

He absolutely hated the beetroot curry though, which I served later. ... And in all fairness, I have to report that the alleged uses as an aphrodisiac leave something to be desired...

Yes, really, beetroot is said to have those magic qualities; in fact it's quite amazing what you can find out about this humble root vegetable once you get started. Unfortunately, I can't quite lay my hand on the notebook in which I recorded the properties of beetroot and the myths it is associated with, and it's also rather late, so this will have to wait until I get the next opportunity to try out some other interesting beetroot recipe.

Tom thinks I've been taken over by some strange sick bug which compells me to rise to the challenge of cooking the inedible, of making the unspeakable palatable. -- Whatever next? Radish icecream with rhubarb sauce?? Melon soup with liver dumplings??? *And why do we have a brain in the vegetable rack?!!

Well, as I said, more about beetroot (and also about 'brains') some other time. I must fly. (No, actually - drive - the fatherland calls...)

'See' you soon.

* Careful! Heston Blumenthal might nick these ideas!!!

Do make sure you check everyone else's fabulous ideas for a vegetable and antioxidant rich dish over at sweetnicks. And thank you sweetnicks, for being so efficient!!!


Kai said...

We have the same salad in the Philippines, added with sliced green beans and peas. Strangely enough it's called Russian salad.

Mona said...

wow, what an awesome creation. never heard or seen anything like it! happy valentine's day to you too!!!
wish every day of the year was valentine's day so i had an excuse to wear red and beg for chocolates and flowers;0

Zabeena said...

Hi Mona and Kai!
Mmmm, green beans and peas would look striking in this! Makes sense to call it 'Russian'. Fascinating that it has travelled to the Philippines!
Yes, happy Valentine's wishes to everyone! (And a bit of Valentine's spirit every day... ;-)

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