Late Autumn Salad

There has been some super chilly weather with both sleet and snow yesterday, winter would seem to be on the way.  Today however brings beautiful bright sun and clear blue skies not seen for a week or two.  It is days like this when I am torn between cosy warming soup or a rich stew for my internal heating and clinging to the remaining autumnal days with a salad.  Not a light summery salad of warm ripe tomatoes and fresh garden herbs, more a chunky robust salad, a meal in itself rather than a little something on the side, as they say.

A rummage around in the fridge yields beetroot and rocket.  Further search offers up feta and so, we are away.  This salad is both earthy and fresh, salty and sweet, soft and crunchy.  If beetroot is really not your thing and I blame those deep purple vinegary orbs served at school for putting so many people off this fabulous vegetable, then roasted butternut would be an excellent alternative.  Haven’t got any rocket, then dark green peppery watercress would be ideal.  Seeds, schmeeds, pumpkin, sunflower, pine kernals – it doesn’t matter, as long as the balance is retained you can customise at will.

Beetroot and Feta Salad

4 medium size beetroot (nearer snooker than tennis ball ideally)

3 tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil

2 good handfuls rocket

100g feta, roughly crumbled

2 spring onions, sliced

A handful of pumpkin seeds

1 – 2 teaspoons  red wine or cider vinegar, to taste

Pinch of sugar

Preheat oven to 200.  Wash and quarter the beetroot (no need to peel), put in a small roasting tin with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, tumble together and cook for 1 hour.  Toast the pumpkin seeds in a hot frying pan until just colouring and put on one side.  Put the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl, mix with the vinegar, sugar and season with salt and pepper.  When the beetroot is cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.  Gently combine the beetroot, feta, rocket, spring onions and the dressing, divide between two plates and sprinkle over the toasted pumpkin seeds.   Serves 2.

It strikes me this might be rather good with some roast chicken, not piping hot from the oven but allowed to cool until just warm.