Beetroot and spiced onion salad

Beetroot and spiced onion salad
Currently on our menu, this salad is a nice light lunch dish or starter to reflect the fact that spring is here and the sun’s been shining – a bit.
Buy fresh, uncooked beetroot which should always be cooked unpeeled, otherwise the purple juices will bleed out. Just trim the stalks and was the beetroot under a running tap before boiling. Once cooked, peeling is very easy using just a tea towel to rub off the skin – although you’ll need to wash the towel afterwards.
The salad leaves themselves could be some micro cress, watercress, rocket, baby spinach, standard salad leaves or a even a combination of some of those. It’s up to you.
Serves four as a starter
Two whole beetroot – trimmed and washed
Extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
One clove of garlic – peeled
50g pine nuts
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
One red chilli
One white onion
Two spring onions
A few handfuls of salad leaves as described above
A few spoons of natural yoghurt
A little smoked paprika (optional)
Place the beetroot in a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for a about two hours. When cooked, drain, allow to cool a little and peel off the skin using a tea towel.
While the beetroot’s cooking, peel the onion and slice very thinly. Slice open the chilli lengthways and, if you don’t like too much spice from your chilli, remove the seeds and white membrane from the inside. Slice the chilli very thinly and place in a sieve along with the sliced onion. Put the sieve over a bowl or over the sink and sprinkle the onion and chilli liberally with salt and leave for at least an hour. During this time the salt will draw the moister from the vegetables, intensifying their flavour. They don’t need to be washed at the end of the process as the salt will have washed itself off.
Tip the onion and chilli into a bowl. Chop the spring onions finely and add them to the bowl along with a few splashes of oil, mixing to dress everything.
Once the beetroot’s cooked and peeled, place in a food processor along with the clove of garlic, pine nuts and some salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adding a little oil to make the consistency of a stiff paste.
Add your choice of salad leaves to the onion and chillies and toss
Arrange the salad leaves on serving plates, spooning the beetroot puree alongside. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt on top and, perhaps, a little smoked paprika sprinkled over the top. 
March 2011

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