Literally translated, baharat means ‘spiced’ in Arabic. Apt indeed, because spice is what it contains, loads of it. Cumin and coriander (always a match made in heaven) star, along with the likes of cloves, cardamom, black pepper and mint. It’s a heady perfumed mix with a certain earthiness that’s somehow deeply comforting. A perfect foil, I thought, for the earthy quality of beetroot.
I happened upon baby beetroot with their pointy roots and leaves still on (I have no idea why shops insist on removing them) and got terribly excited. They were too pretty to resist so into my basket went two bunches. Back home I roasted them with olive oil, a touch of honey and a generous sprinkling of baharat. Onto peppery leaves they went along with cooling mint and feta. It called for something more I thought, so I added some salted caramel walnuts too.
This is a marvelous lunch or light supper and the perfect addition to a buffet table for festive season entertaining.
FOR THE ROASTED BEETROOT
10 baby beetroot
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
eat.art pink Himalayan salt
2 tbs eat.art Middle Eastern Baharat spice
1 tbs runny honey
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
FOR THE CARAMELIZED NUTS
¼ cup sugar
½ cup walnuts
eat.art Cyprus flake salt
FOR THE SALAD
packet of watercress
packet of wild rocket
large handful of mint leaves
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1-2 rounds of feta
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar
pinch of eat.art pink Himalayan salt
To make the beetroot:
Wash the baby beetroot very well, especially the bit where the stem meets the root – that’s where the beastly grit hides. Trim off the leaves and most of the stem, leaving just 4cm of it on. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the beetroot. Toss beetroot lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with eat.art’s pink Himalayan salt. Place beetroot on a baking tray, cover tray with tinfoil and roast in a 180 degree Celsius oven (on normal setting, not thermo fan) until beetroot are soft when pierced with a skewer. If the beetroot are very small, this will take about 30 minutes, longer if they are bigger.
Once the beetroot are cooked, remove from the oven. Turn the temperature up to 220 degrees Celsius. Mix the 2tbs olive oil and honey and coat the beetroot, then sprinkle with eat.art‘s baharat spice. Return to the oven, uncovered, for another ten minutes. Remove beetroot and set aside to cool to room temperature. (I leave the stems on as they’re all chewy, which I love. You can simply cut them off at this stage if you prefer.)
To make the caramelised nuts:
Line a baking tray with a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Place the sugar in a small deep saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir it! Just leave it alone to do its thing. Once the sugar has melted, allow it to cook until it is amber in colour, then toss in the nuts and cook for a minute. Remove saucepan from the heat and use two forks to lift individual walnuts out of the caramel. Place walnuts on the lined baking tray and crush a teeny-tiny bit of eat.art Cyprus flake salt over each walnut before it cools down and the caramel hardens.
Assembling the salad:
Make a simple vinaigrette by whisking the olive oil and red wine vinegar with a pinch of salt. Pour it over the watercress and rocket and toss through lightly. Tumble the leaves onto a lovely large platter. Spoon over the beetroot and crumble over the feta. Scatter over the mint leaves, pumpkin seeds and salted caramel walnuts.
Written by: Lizet Hartley
Lizet Hartley is a freelance stills and reel food stylist, food photographer and recipe developer. In her spare time she – rather predictably – cooks. Get more of her recipes on her blog at http://www.melkkos-merlot.co.za