Winter salads are a bit of a conundrum: with the Christmas feast in prospect, you might be craving lightness and fresh flavours, but is a salad sufficiently substantial winter fuel to banish the cold and nourish your core? Jackie Jones’s beetroot and watercress salad certainly is – it’s full of earthy flavours from beets and hazelnuts and is crowned with vegan crowdie. Here’s what she has to say in The Scottish Vegan Cookbook:
Beets take centre stage in this salad, alongside my vegan version of crowdie, a soft and slightly soured Scottish cheese traditionally made by crofters and said to have been introduced to Scotland by the Vikings! The crowdie needs to be prepared in advance, so plan ahead with the simple recipe provided.
Beetroot is a splendid Scottish root vegetable for its colour (usually a deep, gorgeous crimson red), its earthy flavour and its versatility: it can be used both raw and cooked and in both sweet and savoury dishes. It contains folates, as well as the B vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine, and minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Beetroot Salad with Vegan Crowdie
Serves 2; Time: 10 mins (+ overnight preparation of the crowdie)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEETROOT SALAD
- 100g watercress
- 3 medium cooked beetroot (if using shop-bought, without vinegar)
- 1 small red onion or 3 salad onions
- 25g hazelnuts
- 50g vegan crowdie (recipe below)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A small handful of fresh dill, chopped finely to make about a tablespoon
INGREDIENTS FOR THE DRESSING
- 1/2 tablespoon hazelnut oil (or other oil)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Arrange the watercress on a serving plate. Cut the beetroot into wedges and arrange on top of the watercress. Peel the onion (or trim, if using salad onions), chop finely and scatter over the top of the beetroot. Chop the hazelnuts finely and sprinkle them over the salad too. Then, with a spoon, dot small pieces of the crowdie over the salad and season everything well with salt and black pepper.
In a small jug or cup, mix the oil with the orange juice and apple cider vinegar, and spoon the dressing over the salad. Then sprinkle the dill over the dish.
If you have used fresh beetroot and retained the beet tops, prepare them according to the instructions below and serve on the side.
This salad goes well with toasted sourdough (or the Pumpkin Seed and Oat Soda Bread on p. 121 of the book).
INGREDIENTS & EQUIPMENT
- 3 tablespoons plain unsweetened soya yoghurt
To make this soft cheese spoon the yoghurt into a piece of clean muslin over a bowl, tie tightly with string and hang from the handle of a kitchen cupboard over the bowl overnight.
In the morning, discard the strained liquid from the bowl and place the curds or ‘crowdie’ from the muslin in the bowl and refrigerate until needed. It will keep for a day or two in the fridge. Crowdie can also be served with oatcakes for a satisfying snack!
Preparing fresh beetroot
Wash the beets thoroughly and top and tail them. Discard the tails, but retain the usable beetroot tops (which should be bright purple, if fresh). Dry with a paper towel and set aside. Place the beets in a medium-large saucepan with a lid, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and boil hard for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, covered, until cooked. Discard the water, cool the beets until they can be safely handled and then peel them carefully.
To prepare beet tops, in a small frying pan add a little rapeseed oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Add the beet tops and sauté for 6–8 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper before serving.