Beetroot salad: simple and summery

Rambling Down Ridley Road 020813dish Beetroot salad ©

RidleylogoSMALLEVERY WEEK I take £5  to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food, obviously not including items likely to be already in a kitchen, such as sauces, oil, herbs and spices.

On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe.

Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be vegetarian. They will be tasty. 

This week’s £5 basket, pictured below

Bunch French breakfast radishes 25p; 3 broccoli heads £1; bunch of 4 beetroots £1; bowl 10 large field mushrooms 75p; bowl 12 carrots £1; bowl 10 sweet potatoes £1

Total £5

I VISITED my mushroom man again this week. His stall is on the south side of the street opposite a Raffles Jewellery sign on the indoor market building. I asked when he was getting more of the king oyster mushrooms. With a wry laugh, he said that his governor had told him off for under-selling the exquisite Pleurotus eryngii. They’d cost £10 a box at New Spitalfields and he’d put them on the stall at £1.50. Oops. So no more eryngii this week — but he had the lovely big field mushrooms. My grandfather used to call them “plates” and down the market I occasionally hear the term, which puts a wry smile on my face.

This week’s recipe: Beetroot salad, above. Serves 2.

Equipment: kitchen knife, large lidded saucepan, screw-top jar or other lidded container, colander, bowl

Ingredients: 2 beetroots, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 clove garlic peeled and finely chopped, 1/2 onion peeled and very finely chopped, salt.

Preparation: 5 minutes, boiling 40 minutes, oil dressing 5 minutes

Method: Cut the long tap root off each beetroot, leaving 1cm so the beetroot does not bleed during cooking. The same with the leaves: cut them off, leaving 1cm of the stalks. The leaves can be added to salad, so keep them in the fridge. 

Wash the beetroots and place in a saucepan. Covering them in cold water, bring to the boil, then put the lid on the saucepan. Simmer for about 40 minutes until a knife or skewer can easily pierce the beetroot.

While the beetroots are boiling, make the salad dressing. Put all the dressing ingredients in a sealed container and shake until emulsified and put to one side. Tip the cooked beetroots into a colander to drain.

Rinse them under cold water. When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel them with your fingers. The skin will come off easily and quickly. Trim off remaining root and stalks. 

Cut the beetroots into eight wedges, then cut the wedges in half. Place in a serving dish and pour over the dressing. Cover and chill in the fridge. 

Just before serving, toss the beetroots gently so that they are all covered in the dressing. 

Beetroots take a while to cook, which is why I cooked all four at the same time. More ecological/cheaper, too. Two of the beetroots are in today’s salad, above, and two are ready for later.

Ridley020813baskM ©
Weekly wonder: sometimes what Dalston’s market yields still fills me with amazement. All this for £5

Tip: the Turkish Food Centre store at the eastern, St Mark’s Rise end of Ridley Road sells pomegranate syrup and on Mondays and some Tuesdays reduces 5kg boxes of vine tomatoes to between £2 and £3. The tomatoes keep well because they are on the vine: I’ve had a box last nearly 3 weeks. If you’ve time, you could make my tomato soup and freeze it for later, oven-dried tomatoes bottled in oil, or just be extra generous with each serving. I love tomato sandwiches with salt and a little mustard. No cheese, no ham, just the subtle taste of a good tomato. Do not keep a tomato in the fridge because the fruit needs to be room temperature for you to taste its full flavour.

*Previous articles hyperlinked: Vegetable kebabs and fresh peaches in old E8 26 July 2013; Potato salad with cumin seeds 19 July 2013Fruit sticks 12 July 2013; Asparagus, onion and tomato tartlets 5 July 2013; Sparkling elderflower and fritters 28 June 2013; Beetroot quinoa salad 21 June 2013; Lemon couscous with spicy mushrooms 14 June 2013; Lurgied 7 June 2013At last, the Alphonso 31 May 2013; Aubergine salad 24 May 2013; Asparagus with hollandaise 17 May 2013Stuffed beef tomatoes with guacamole 10 May 2013Hackney snackney 3 May 2013Bell pepper salad 26 April 2013Gnocchi and tomato sauce with zucchini salad  19 April 2013 Tomato soup with soda bread 12 April 2013Broccoli mornay 5 April 2013Easter redemption song 29 March 2013 Less  is enough 22 March 2013;

Ridley Rd Market Dalston Lon E8 July 2013 ©
Clean me: street sign on a high wall

A tart in the mart 15 March 2013; Polenta verde and sauté mushrooms 8 March 2013; Caribeasy 29 February 2013; Feeling fruity 22February 2013; Kashmir delight 15 February 2013Samphire surprise 8 February 2013Two dishes from £5 1 February 2013Ae fond neep 25 January 2013Cauliflower cheese 18 January 2013Hackney frittata 11 January 2013;  Tasty and easy Christmas snack 21 December 2012The shops behind the market stalls 9 November 2012Chutney 2 November 2012;  Piccalilli 26 October 2012Golden soup 19 October 2012Roasted, stuffed squash 12 October 2012Vegetable curry 5 October 2012Carrot and coriander soup 28 September 2012Ratatouille Gypsy stew 21 September 2012Bubble and squeak Shooey styleBakewell pudding 14 September 2012Coleslaw and radishes 7 September 2012Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012The column sets itself a challenge 15 August 2012

* Other websites have written about this column, among them Hackney Post, which has published an interview with Shooey, as has the Food Bankers. Hackney council journalist Marcel Reinard has made a video about markets, including Ridley Road. 

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