Goats’ Cheese Bruschetta with Beetroot and Rocket Salad
The colours and flavours in this meal are vibrant and energising.
Using uncooked beetroot will require 20–25 minutes of cooking. If you don’t have time for this, you can always use ready-cooked beetroot but make sure they haven’t been pickled. If time is of no consequence, beetroot baked in their skins with salt and oil have an intensity that boiled beetroot lacks – roasting does, however take from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of the beets (see below).
* 750 g uncooked beetroot (each beet ideally about the size of a golf ball) or 600 g cooked beetroot (not pickled in vinegar)
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
* 1 tbsp sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar, plus a dash for cooking the beetroot
* olive oil
* 80 g shelled walnuts
* 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
* 350 g soft goats’ cheese, rindless
* 8 large slices bread (crusty, country bread would work well)
* 80–100 g rocket
* 5 sprigs fresh mint
* 1 tbsp walnut oil (optional)
* 2 tbsp olive oil (3 tbsp if you can’t or don’t want to buy walnut oil)
* salt and pepper
30 minutes before you want to eat
* If you are using raw beetroot, they will need cooking. Wash away any large clods of mud then if they are about the size of a golf ball or just over, place them directly in a pan of water. If they are larger, first cut them in half or, if they are very large, into quarters. Add the bay leaves, caraway seeds, a dash of vinegar and another of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 20–25 minutes or until tender.
* Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over a low heat for a few minutes. Strip the rosemary leaves from their stalks. Roughly chop them with the walnuts. Put the goats’ cheese, rosemary, walnuts and seasoning into a bowl and mix together to a smooth paste.
* Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and toast on both sides, then spread with the goats’ cheese. Leave the grill on while you prepare the salad.
* Remove any thick stalks from the rocket, wash and dry the leaves and tip into a large salad bowl. Strip the mint leaves from their stalks, tear the leaves and add to the rocket.
* When the beetroot are tender, drain them and rinse under cold running water until they are cool enough to handle and peel. If you are using ready-cooked beetroot, peel if necessary. Cut the beets into bite-sized chunks. Mix together the vinegar and the walnut and olive oil (or just the olive oil), season and add to the beetroot.
* Put the goats’ cheese toasts under the grill and let them become golden brown.
* Toss the beetroot and rocket leaves together.
* Put two bruschettas on each plate and top them with piles of salad.
* To bake beetroot
* Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Wash the beetroot and place them in a roasting tin with a sprinkling of coarse salt, a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of vinegar and a good splash of water. Cover the tin with foil and bake the beetroot until they are tender. Check them after 25 minutes and add a little more water. The beets will take about 45 minutes if they are very small and up to 2 hours if they are larger than a tennis ball. Top the water up a couple of times.