Prep Time 10'PT10M
Total Time 15'PT15M
With its riotous colour, earthy flavour and bright berry dressing, our beetroot salad recipe will quickly become a family favourite.
If it’s good enough for Nigel…
Food writer extraordinaire Nigel Slater has a few things to say about the humble beetroot. In fact, he’s such a fan that it beat out myriad other more glamorous foods to earn a spot on his list of five star ingredients of the last twenty years.
According to Nigel, the beetroot has suddenly come back into fashion thanks to our collective discovery of how delicious it is when roasted. Now, he says, it’s everywhere: ‘I feel lucky that I like it, but sorry for those who don’t, who will find the bloody black-red globes difficult to dodge nowadays.’(1)
Not so, Nigel; there are many of us who have always treasured this odd, globular vegetable and are delighted to see it get its place in the sun!
Aside from its gloriously fuchsia colour, beetroot has stolen a place in our hearts thanks to its natural sweetness. A 100g serving of beetroot provides 43 calories and is a source of fibre. However, scientists have also classified it as one of the top ten plants with the highest antioxidant activity!(2)
Developing our beetroot salad
This salad is all about crunch. From the raw beetroot to carrot and red cabbage, the veg we’ve chosen to take centre stage in our salad are textural superstars. Crisp, fresh and delightful, they practically beg to be placed in the middle of a barbecue spread or a summer picnic.
Meanwhile, we’ve added nuts and seeds to provide that all-important protein and added nutritional benefits. In our humble opinion, no salad is complete without a scattering of seeds.
Sesame seeds date back to 1600BC and some say they are the oldest condiment known to man. Not only do they taste great and add extra texture, they also contain lignans such as sesamin and sesamolin.
These are antioxidants are thought to increase the activity of vitamin E, which in turn may help prevent illnesses such as heart disease.(3)
Meanwhile, sunflower seeds are naturally prebiotic. This means that they contain a special type of fibre which we humans can’t digest; however, the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut can, and it provides them with a nourishing meal. And, when your gut microbiome is happy and healthy, it can help look after you, too.
Lately, scientific interest in the link between gut health and our overall wellbeing - and even our mental health - has exploded. Happy gut, happy life!
In the early noughties, it became briefly fashionable to eat salad with no dressing. Thank goodness those days are over. The dressing is the soul of a salad; a drizzle of punchy flavours which turns a bowl of raw vegetables into a delicious meal.
For ours, we’ve chosen a base of classic flavours: lemon juice, for acidity, and mustard for a hint of spice.
However we wanted something a bit thicker and more satisfying than a simple vinaigrette for this salad. While many salad dressings use yoghurt or mayonnaise, here we’ve used soaked cashew nuts.
If you haven’t used soaked cashews before, you're in for a treat. Simply soak them in cold water overnight (a speedier version can be done in twenty minutes if you use boiling water). Something magical happens inside that bowl, and when you whizz the mixture up in a blender it produces a silky smooth, thick cashew cream.
This trick works a treat for so many recipes (for example, you could use it to thicken and cool hot dishes like curries). Plus, it keeps things entirely plant-based, and therefore accessible to everyone.
Now, onto the star of the show.
Aronia berry, also sometimes known as chokeberry, is a little, dark purple berry which looks rather similar to a small blueberry.
However, this berry punches well above its weight when it comes to nutrition.
Aronia is rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant pigment which gives them their gorgeous colour. These antioxidants can help fight free radicals in the body. These reactive molecules are involved in the ageing process, so aronia berries are a great choice if you’re aiming for youthful, radiant skin.
In fact, aronia berries have been found to be three times better than raspberries, and nearly four times better than blueberries at neutralising free radicals.(3)
If you haven’t tasted it before, it’s like a cross between blueberry and pomegranate. Aronia also contains tannins, like those found in red wine, so you may notice some similarities in mouth-feel.
In our dressing, aronia berry adds the sweet-sharp flavour of berries, beautifully accentuated by the lemon juice for a tangy and delicious finishing touch to our salad.
How to eat
Place this vibrant salad at the heart of your dinner table. You could eat it alongside some flatbreads for a quick and healthy midweek meal, or serve it as part of a selection of small dishes for a casual dinner with friends.
Alternatively, serve with grilled vegetables, tofu skewers or - if you’re veggie - charred halloumi at a summer barbecue.
Its bright, cheerful colours will attract plenty of attention, while its healthy ingredients and punchy flavours will make it a feast for the body as well as the eyes.Salads and sides