Photos, recipe & words by Chard @ The Sensitive Foodie
Caramelised Beetroot & Carrot Salad with Za’atar Spiced Goat Cheese
I would love to be able to say I plucked these gorgeous beets & carrots from my garden, but unfortunately I am not blessed with the gardening gene. My garden is littered with pots full of nothing but good intentions. The remains of the poor herbs and vegetables that picked the short-straw when coming home with me, are nothing more than a a dried-up,shrivelled memory. My fruit trees do OK, but that has more to do with the fact that they were established well before I arrived, and we seem to have come to a silent agreement that they will continue to provide an abundance of fruit, if I promise to leave them alone to do their own thing. So far it’s working.
Where my black thumb really throws a spanner in the works is when I imagine my perfect life, it includes me living on a small farm, surrounded by animals, with a fruit orchard and an enormous vegetable patch brimming with fresh produce. Where I could spend my days collecting fresh ingredients, and making delicious meals using the fruits of my labour. But in reality, I may have to make sure that my dream farm is in close proximity to the shops, because I could get pretty hungry, and I don’t think weeds are too tasty.
Until that magical day arrives, and I am able to head out to the garden and dig up my own colourful baby beetroots and carrots, I’ll just have to stick with visiting the local farmers markets, like I did for the ingredients for this salad.
Served warm, this dish can hold it’s own as a light main meal, it has the lovely earthiness of the root vegetables, mixed with the sweetness of the rich caramelised orange dressing. Top this with the soft melted creamy goats cheese, coated in a freshly made za’atar spice mix, then warmed so that they ooze when you touch them. If the carnivore in you needs, some extra protein, you could also serve this as a side with roast lamb racks.
1 bunch baby beetroots, stalks trimmed, leaving about 1.5cm or .5 inches
1 bunch baby carrots or Dutch carrots (see note), stalks trimmed, leaving about 1.5cm or .5 inches
1 red spanish onion, peeled, and quartered
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 medium oranges, juiced (use 3/4 for the vegetables, and the remainder for the dressing)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoon olive oil (use 2 tablespoons for the vegetables, and one for the dressing)
a bunch fresh thyme
100g / 3.75 oz baby spinach, washed, and dried
150g / 5 oz goat cheese chèvre
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 teaspoons ground sumac
ground sea salt & black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 220 C / 425 F degrees.
2. Mix together the balsamic vinegar, roughly 3/4 of the orange juice, brown sugar & 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and put aside
3. Leaving the skin on the beetroots and carrots, gently scrub them to remove any dirt. Place the whole beetroots, carrots and the red onion quarters into a large baking dish, and pour over the balsamic & orange juice mixture. Add 6 sprigs of thyme, and stir the vegetables to coat thoroughly. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
4. In a mortar and pestle, add 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, toasted sesame seeds, sumac, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and a pinch of pepper. Lightly grind up, it doesn’t need to be ground to a powder, just enough that the thyme breaks down and mixes in well.
5. Divide the goat cheese chèvre into 12 equal sizes, and then roll into balls. Roll the balls into herb & spice mixture to coat, keep in the fridge until ready to use.
6. Once you have taken the vegetables out of the oven, allow them to cool a little, leaving the oven on, but reducing to 170 C / 340 F. While waiting, in a bowl, add the baby spinach, 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining orange juice & a pinch of salt & pepper. Toss to lightly coat. Place onto your serving platter, or individual plates.
7. When the vegetables are cool enough to touch, cut the carrots in half length ways, and the beetroots into quarters. Place the cot vegetables back into the baking pan, and toss to coat with the pan juices. Place the goat cheese balls into the oven for about 2 mins, just to melt the centres. Place the carrots, beetroots and onion on top of the baby spinach, and then top with the goats cheese balls that will ooze out (you need to be gentle, they are very soft). Sprinkle a little of the remaining spice mix and serve immediately.
Suitable for: vegetarian & gluten, wheat, egg, soy & nut free diets
Note: if you are using Dutch carrots, add them to the roasting pan half way through cooking, since they are much skinnier.
Chard @thesensitivefoodie is a lover of all things food, it’s just that not all food loves her back. Having recently given up gluten, eggs & cows milk products, she has embraced her new healthier & happier lifestyle by creating a blog called The Sensitive Foodie; providing recipes for anyone that enjoys good food, including people with a variety of special diets. When not experimenting in the kitchen, she can usually be found at farmers markets, farm doors and foodie haunts; hunting out fresh produce and interesting finds. www.thesensitivefoodie.net or fb/senstivefoodie