Beetroot and carrot and a feast of colours

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The past two weeks have been mildly crazy. We went to the theatre, had lunches and dinners with friends, I dutifully attended ‘networking’ events (where older men in black suits huddle with other black suits…), got excited about Good Food Month in October, and felt a general festive restlessness as Sydney finally burst into spring madness.

In the midst of this, I got my cooking assignment for the Bitten Word Cover to Cover Challenge 2013. In this challenge, we are each assigned one recipe from the September issue of Bon Appétit magazine, so that as a group, we will have made all 47 recipes in the magazine.

I sign up for these things to widen my cooking & baking horizons. Cover to Cover was no exception. The recipe was one of the simplest I have attempted, and not the type of recipe I blog about. Yet, once I started, the minimalist recipe made me really pay attention to the colours, textures and flavours of the ingredients. Making a simple recipe became a feast for the senses.

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The recipe is carrot and beet slaw with pistachios and raisins. In the original recipe, carrots and beetroot are julienned, mixed in garlic-flavoured lemon juice, golden raisins, chilli, parsley, mint, and toasted pistachios.

Bon Appétit ‘s photo was a riot of colours. Red and golden beetroot, orange-red carrots, matchsticks of summer tumbling over one another to create a festive whole. It was a beautiful chaos; a styled, self consciously casual, beautiful chaos.

I knew I needed similarly gorgeous colours to do the recipe justice. A visit to the ever-fabulous Eveleigh Markets yielded tiny red and golden beets, a variety of heirloom carrots with rosy-fading-to-pale colours, parsley so young, tender, delicately flavoured that they could be micro herbs. There were also other herbs and vegetables that I could not resist adding to the bag.

Rather than recreate the Bon Appétit styling, because, well, that would be hard without a mandolin, I began to play with the carrots and beets. Instead of this:

click to go to the Bon Appetit recipe

I ended up with this:

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Instead of julienne, I sliced the beets and carrots to keep their distinctive silhouettes, laid out the slices to show off the different shapes and colours, added the other ingredients, dressing, and had something that was like a sketch, a tangential idea for a carrot and beet slaw.

(Note I swapped dried cranberries for golden raisins, and pepitas and crushed hazelnuts for pistachios, in both cases because my trusty grocer was out of these ingredients – !)

I left the ‘slaw’ sitting for an hour before serving, and the beetroot and carrot slices were ever slightly softened but still crunchy. The flavours were clean, the beet was sweetly sharp, the carrots had an earthy smell of real carrots. They didn’t need elaborate cooking or fussy dressing, and were the perfect antidote to a week of heavy takeaway or restaurant food.

That evening, I made a couscous salad from these ingredients. Carrots, beet and cranberries lightly sauteed with cumin, cardamon and honey; a cloud of chopped parsley and mint; plus chorizo sliced and grilled, and a warm dressing of tahini and lemon. It was full of colour and flavour, and (maybe except for the chorizo) sneakily healthy.

The next day, in a nose-to-tail mood, I also used the beet greens in a frittata, and served blanched carrot top with a Japanese sesame dressing. These were so good, I will be buying beetroot and carrots soon – for their greens.

A feast for the senses, thanks to the Bitten Word.

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Carrot and beet slaw with pistachios and raisins

(this is the original recipe from Bon Appétit, with some of my changes annotated)

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 cup golden raisins (I used dried cranberries, sliced in half)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
6 medium carrots, about 1 lb or 450 grams, peeled, julienned
2 medium beets, about 1 lb or 450 grams, peeled, julienned
1/2 packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (I also added a couple of sprigs of other flowering herbs)
1/4 packed cup (or a handful) fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp red pepper / chilli flakes
Kosher salt (or coarse salt) and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios (I used pepitas and hazelnuts)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Spread pistachios (or hazelnuts) on a lined baking tray or baking sheet; toast, stirring occasionally, until the nuts turn golden brown or the hazelnut has cooked, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; and coarsely chop. (I crushed pepitas in a mortar and pestle)

2. Combine garlic, raisins, and vinegar in a large bowl; let sit 1 hour.

3. Remove garlic from raisin mixture and discard. Add carrots, beets, pistachios, parsley, mint, lemon juice, and red pepper/chilli flakes; season with salt and pepper, toss to combine. Add oil; toss gently.

 

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35 thoughts on “Beetroot and carrot and a feast of colours

  1. tinywhitecottage 6 September 2013 at 1:05 am Reply

    Oh my goodness this is wonderful! It’s only 7am right now and when I saw your post it “woke me up”! I love root vegetables and the colors here are so vibrant. Gorgeous food, beautiful post.

    • saucygander 6 September 2013 at 7:40 pm Reply

      Thanks so much. I love cooking with root vegetables. This slaw/salad was packed with flavour as well as colour, it is one of our favourite vegetarian dishes now. 🙂

  2. chef mimi 6 September 2013 at 1:10 am Reply

    Absolutely beautiful.

  3. Jody and Ken 6 September 2013 at 1:14 am Reply

    So funny to think of you heading into spring as we decline into fall. Excellent post–great color, photos and props for going for the silhouette. The Bon Appétit approach looks a little too Jackson Pollock for me. Ken

    • saucygander 6 September 2013 at 10:55 pm Reply

      It is funny to read about weather and events on the opposite side of the world, isn’t it? I’m really glad you liked this post, l’m a big fan of the photos and recipes on your blog so it’s always good to have you visit!

  4. Liz 6 September 2013 at 2:05 am Reply

    that is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen! It belongs in an art museum. I’d (almost) be afraid to eat it as I wouldn’t want to muss it up–lol.

    Kudos on taking on a new challenge. You are ambitious for sure 🙂

    • saucygander 6 September 2013 at 10:59 pm Reply

      Thanks! It was a chance to play with food, in a way that mum might have frowned on (you should have seen the kitchen bench! bits of carrot and beet flying everywhere). What better start to the weekend?

  5. Gather and Graze 6 September 2013 at 9:07 am Reply

    Beautiful Colours! Love the addition of the little flowering herbs.

  6. yummychunklet 6 September 2013 at 12:10 pm Reply

    Very colorful!

  7. rubytheblacklabrador 6 September 2013 at 8:19 pm Reply

    I have round carrots and beetroot newly picked from the garden – will do this carpaccio tomorrow – thanks!

    • saucygander 6 September 2013 at 11:06 pm Reply

      Great! I hope you like the result!

  8. Sally 6 September 2013 at 8:48 pm Reply

    I think your styling is way prettier than BAs.

    • saucygander 6 September 2013 at 11:06 pm Reply

      Wow, thanks, I’m so glad you like this!

  9. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 6 September 2013 at 10:40 pm Reply

    What gorgeous presentation! The colours are so striking! 😀

    • saucygander 6 September 2013 at 11:07 pm Reply

      Thanks Lorraine! And thanks for stopping by!

  10. shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com 7 September 2013 at 12:11 am Reply

    So glad to have stumbled by your blog – this is such a beutiful salad! This salad I would ahve a hard time sharing!
    Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

    • saucygander 7 September 2013 at 7:21 am Reply

      Hi there, glad you stopped by and thanks for the comment, your blog is awesome! Such great content!

  11. Anne ~ Uni Homemaker 7 September 2013 at 2:21 am Reply

    What a gorgeous salad! I love the vibrant color and of course the beetroot and carrot. Delicious!

    • saucygander 7 September 2013 at 7:19 am Reply

      Thanks Anne! The market fresh vegetables made all the difference to this salad, I’m lucky to have such good markets close to home. 🙂

  12. thatskinnychickcanbake 8 September 2013 at 1:02 am Reply

    Salad or slaw…I love the look of this!!! I adore beets and must try this when I get home. Just gorgeous.

    • saucygander 8 September 2013 at 2:20 am Reply

      Thanks Liz! We really liked the mix of flavours, hope you will like it too!

  13. Karen @ Karen's Kitchen Stories 8 September 2013 at 3:50 am Reply

    That is soooo pretty! You could frame those photos. Seriously.

    • saucygander 8 September 2013 at 11:03 am Reply

      Wow, thank you! It was very healthy too, bonus 🙂

  14. laurasmess 8 September 2013 at 6:54 pm Reply

    What an elegant salad! Wow. Can’t believe that you took these photos without a DSLR! Love your adaptation of the Bon Appetit recipe. I think in some ways it looks even more beautiful than the mandolin slices. I’d love to know how you dressed the carrot tops, as I’m always at a loss on how to use them after removing the carrots (I’ve done pesto so far, that’s about it really!). I’m definitely going to try this lovely xx

    • saucygander 9 September 2013 at 9:35 pm Reply

      Thanks, I had so much fun playing with food, when composing this salad. Highly recommended way to spend a Saturday afternoon! 🙂

      For the carrot tops, I used a recipe I found ages ago, it involves blanching the carrot tops, soaking overnight, and dressing with sesame oil, soy, and mirin. Time consuming, but simple and delicious. I’ll post the recipe here soon.

  15. johnnysenough hepburn 9 September 2013 at 1:13 pm Reply

    So glad you showed theirs and yours as I far prefer yours. Theirs is trying too hard to be different, and looks a mess. And I’m loving your attention to detail here. Oddly, earlier this summer I’d read a post about slaw. The usual type. Looked great, btw. And I had good intentions of making one, even though I’m not overly keen on the stuff as I really don’t relish shop-bought mayo. That’s my excuse, as the good intentions didn’t last!

    • saucygander 9 September 2013 at 9:40 pm Reply

      Time for autumn slaw? I have good intentions to make heaps of things too, only a fraction actually get made, and a smaller fraction make it onto here, so I will accept your excuse. :-). Have you made your own mayonnaise? So different from store bought, light, smooth but so rich too.

      • johnnysenough hepburn 9 September 2013 at 10:03 pm

        Oh, yes. I used to live with several people from the Basque country, and shop-bought wasn’t even an option. More recently, as I can’t buy extremely fresh eggs, I make it by poaching an egg yolk. So good!

  16. Maureen 12 September 2013 at 2:25 pm Reply

    I’d like this salad better than the slaw. I love beetroot and carrot together.

    • saucygander 17 September 2013 at 9:04 am Reply

      Love beet and carrot together too, this had a good dressing so we’ll be having it again for sure!

  17. The High Heel Gourmet 1 October 2013 at 5:27 pm Reply

    Your photos are so beautiful and colorful. I love them.

    • saucygander 2 October 2013 at 10:14 pm Reply

      Thank you! I’m glad to see you around here. 😀

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