I love beetroot. It is one of the few things I have genuinely loved eating all my life. Along with ham and Vegemite, beetroot featured heavily in the meals I ate as a child and continues to do so. Mum would buy the Golden Circle tins of sliced beetroot, which are lightly pickled to preserve them. I probably thought that was the only way you could buy beetroot for a while!
Now I buy fresh beetroot, and the more unusual the variety the better! Currently I have been buying lots of golden beetroot, but the inspiration for this salad was some utterly amazing chioggia or bulls eye beetroot I found at the Carriageworks Christmas Markets last year. The gentleman selling them said that they were the very very last of the season, and probably thought I was a little over enthusiastic about what he was selling! I knew that these beetroot existed, but I had never ever seen them anywhere and thus never had an opportunity to buy any or try them. I bought two bunches, and along with all the other things I had bought that day, carried them home with many ideas running through my mind as to what I could do with them.
I started searching online for recipes that specifically used chioggia beetroot, and they all had a common theme - eating them raw as a decoration or in a salad. Many people said that cooking them like you would other beetroots made them lose their distinctive pink and white stripes and turned them an unappetising grey colour. At first I was a little disheartened as I had these amazing beetroots sitting in the fridge, but was still no closer to actually eating them!
Since this was the first time I had even seen or been able to buy chioggia beetroot, I didn’t want to risk cooking them and finding it was a waste as their colour was what I wanted to retain. So, I decided to pickle them and add to a salad, as many articles and recipes had suggested online. The way I pickle my beetroot for this particular salad is super quick, and only makes what you need for the salad. I liked this method as it was easy to put together a salad for just myself and not use all my prized beetroots at once. I haven’t added any measurements to this recipe, as it is easily adaptable to serving one for lunch or many as a side to a main meal.
Chioggia Beetroot & Goats Cheese Salad
chioggia beetroot, about 1/2-1 beetroot per person
white wine vinegar
baby capers in vinegar
Trim leaves and stems from beetroot, and wash throughly. Peel beetroot, discarding the skins and then grate. Place the grated beetroot in a bowl and add 1/2-1tsp of capers (per person), there is no need to drain the capers of the vinegar.
Lightly cover the grated beetroot with either some of the vinegar from the capers and/or some of the white vinegar. You don’t want the beetroot to be swimming in the vinegar, just enough so all the beetroot can lightly pickle. Leave to pickle while preparing the rest of the salad.
Place salad leaves in salad bowl if serving many, or an individual plate if making for one.
Crumble the goats cheese over the salad leaves, using as much or as little as your personal tastes dictate.
Sprinkle the pickled beetroot and capers over the salad, using some of the pickling liquid as a light dressing if desired.