When all is grey and dark in the winter, at least there’s beetroot.
I had tried out a weekly vegetable box when I lived in Scotland. Every Friday I was delivered a box of seasonal produce from local farms, and it seemed like such an exciting idea at the time. I was ticking all the ethical boxes and it was going to be organic and healthier and I was going to challenge myself as a cook as my dinners were based on the mystery box! Then reality slapped me in the face: weeks and weeks of root vegetables. Of course, what did my naivety think would grow in the harsh Scottish climate? But at least there was also beetroot, the only color that existed in my Scottish winter.
“Winter Blues” as a concept only struck me in my first year of university in Scotland. The perpetual darkness, the bone-soaking cold, the merciless wind – I didn’t understand how civilization came to form there, why evolution had not forced them to migrate southwards.
My partner is Norwegian, and every now and then I toy with the idea of moving to that Socialist paradise but am quickly reminded of its location on the map. Again, how has civilization formed there?
As aforementioned, winter blues are also worsened by the lack of variety of fresh produce. But, there are beets. Beets provide colors to your monotonous winter plate.
Serves 4 as a side dish
10 beetroot (a range of colors is best, but make sure you separate them in your preparations so the red one doesn’t stain all the other ones)
200ml red wine vinegar
80g extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling and roasting)
2 tbsp hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and roughly chopped
Small handful tarragon leaves, torn
Preheat oven to 200C.
Scrub the beetroot clean, and toss 6 of them with some olive oil and salt. Put in roasting tin and roast for about 50 minutes until soft. Then cut it into quarters
For the remaining beetroot, slice them really finely (best done on a mandolin). Reserve half of them raw, the other half you will pickle.
Put sugar and vinegar in a pot and bring to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and put the beetroot in. Leave for five minutes.
Mix the labneh with the 80ml of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the labneh mixture onto the plates. Arrange the three types of beetroot on top. Add a free torn leaves of tarragon and sprinkle on the chopped hazelnuts. Drizzle olive oil on top.