This salad is full of goodness and uses farro, a grain with a gorgeous nutty texture. The farro is paired with roasted beetroot and capsicum as well as a recent discovery - beetroot greens the leafy top of the beetroot. Beet greens actually carry more nutrients than the roots yet have a mild, delicious flavour not unlike spinach! Once you try these you'll never discard the leaves again!
Whenever we go food shopping and there is someone giving out food samples, Mr NQN and I will have two different reactions. He will studiously avoid the person even going so far as avoiding that aisle while I will always give something a try if I like the sound of it.
I asked him why he avoided the samplers. His explanation was simple, "I don't want to feel obligated to them to buy something." Fair enough, I do feel that even if I didn't particularly care for the sample. I'll usually ask them which aisle it is in and then tell them that I will buy it and talk to them at length about it. He just shakes his head at me but I feel somehow that because I have tried it, I should go through this elaborate ruse to avoid hurting their feelings when in actuality they probably don't care that much if I buy it or not and they're probably more thinking about their sore feet from standing than anything else.
While he eschews samplers at the shops, it's usually very easy to get him to sample food at home, especially if it is made up of salad, fruit or vegetables. This was one dish that I made when he happened to be working from home one day. It's rare that he does but I took the chance to have him hand model because it's almost impossible for me to do any sort of these shots when I am by myself.
I recently tried sauteed beet greens while I was overseas and they were so delicious that I decided to cook some up for this salad instead of discarding them as I usually do. They have a flavour not unlike spinach and cook quickly and easily. The best thing about them though is that they actually contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than the beetroots!
This salad has a nutty crunch from the farro balanced with the sweetness of beetroots, roasted red capsicum and a honey sweetened dressing. It's not overly sweet by any means but it is a versatile side salad or indeed a nutritious main meal. This sounds very braggy but honestly, this is such a tasty, nutritious and wholesome salad that I really urge you to give this a go!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you avoid or try samples when offered? And if not, what are your reasons? Do you eat beet greens? And have you tried farro?
Farro, Roasted Beetroot and Beetroot Green Salad
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main meal
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5 hours (mostly waiting for the beetroot to roast)
- 6 small beetroot, scrubbed clean, reserve leaves
- 1 large red capsicum, seeded and sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 125g/4ozs farro*
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced and divided in two
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
*You can also substitute farro for barley, couscous, brown rice, quinoa or any grain that you like.
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 190C/380F. Place the beetroot whole on a large sheet of foil, drizzle some oil over and wrap up the whole lot of them tightly in the foil. Place on one side of a tray. On the other side of the tray place the capsicum strips and drizzle with oil. Place the tray in the oven and roast the vegetables (you can do this the day or 2 days before). The beetroot will take about an hour, maybe 1.5 hours depending on their size. The capsicum should be checked after 30 minutes where you can just redistribute the slices on the tray so that they caramelise evenly. Cool the beetroot a little and then remove the skin with your hands (wear gloves if you don't want your fingers to be stained or if it is too hot).
Step 2 - Meanwhile cook the farro according to the directions (1 cup of water for 125g/4ozs farro) and allow it to absorb the water.
Step 3 - Take the beetroot leaves, wash them well and chop roughly. Heat a frypan on high heat and add oil and 1 clove of sliced garlic. Fry quickly and then add the beetroot leaves and stir fry these quickly. They don't require a long cooking time.
Step 4 - Assemble the salad by placing the cooked farro in a large bowl. Slice the beetroot and add this, along with the cooked leaves and red capsicum. With the remaining clove of garlic, bash it in a mortar and pestle with the honey and 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss. Top with parsley and serve.