Need some salad inspiration?
"A warm purple beetroot salad has been a family staple for as long as I can remember," says Irini Tzortzoglou – and this vibrant dish will add some flare to summer mealtimes.
A handful of pistachio nuts
4–5 golden beetroots, preferably with their stalks
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
A sprig of fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 packet of watercress
2 baby gem lettuces
1/2 a fennel bulb, fronds reserved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the beetroot stalks:
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A squeeze of lemon juice
For the dressing:
300ml freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 unwaxed orange
20ml lemon juice
1tsp orange blossom honey
50ml extra virgin olive oil
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed
1cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Roast the pistachios on a baking tray for five to seven minutes, then put aside to cool. Cut the stalks off the beetroots and set aside.
2. Wash and dry the beetroots and place them on a piece of foil large enough to wrap them completely. Drizzle them with a little oil, season with salt and pepper, then add the sprig of thyme and the garlic cloves, wrap well and place in the oven. Check after one hour by inserting a knife into the beetroots, though they may need as long as one-and-a-half hours, depending on their size.
3. Wash the stalks and cut them into pieces about 5cm long. Drop them into a pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes, until soft but still with a bit of crunch, then drain and rinse under cold water. Put them into a bowl with a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon, and season.
4. Take the beetroots out of the oven when cooked and leave to cool. Peel, thinly slice and put into a bowl. Drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper.
5. Peel the oranges and divide into segments, discarding the membrane. Rinse and drain the watercress. Trim the ends off the lettuces and slice them horizontally into 0.5cm-thick rings. With a vegetable peeler or a mandolin, shave the fennel.
6. To make the dressing, bring the orange juice and zest to the boil in a small saucepan, then boil until reduced by half. Place in a small blender and add the lemon juice, honey, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and blend to a thick consistency. Add the cardamom seeds and grated ginger and give it a good stir.
7. On a flat serving plate, arrange the beetroot slices, watercress, fennel shavings, orange segments and baby gems in layers, scattering some of the beetroot stalks here and there. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and scatter over the roasted pistachios and fennel fronds.
Under The Olive Tree: Recipes From My Greek Kitchen by Irini Tzortzoglou is published by Headline. Available now.