Just as sweet as they need to be Beetroot and blood oranges Pecorino biscuits Pears, red wine and blackcurrants

Published date24 September 2022
Publication titleMix, The
I balance the relentless sugar-and-soil notes of beetroot with vinegar (cider, wine or rice) lemon juice or a sour dairy ingredient, such as labneh or yoghurt — knife-sharp seasoning to slice through the sweetness. At this time of year, blood oranges do that job splendidly. The stripes and blotches of deep carmine and tangerine flesh are beautiful when set against the dull maroon beets, and the acidity is welcome

And no, I don’t think beetroot works in a risotto as I once did. Too sugary, too monotone. You need to include something that will offer balance and harmony.

I often use a mustardy dressing with boiled or roast beets, and I sometimes introduce bitter greens such as watercress or white rabbit-ears of chicory. Salty capers give it a kick up the backside, too, as will lactic goat’s or sheep cheeses.

The pears are still in fine fettle, which is just as well, as I failed to squirrel away more than a few of last summer’s crop of gooseberries and damsons in the freezer. I cooked a batch of pears this week with red wine and blackcurrants, and ate them with salty, crumbly pecorino biscuits.

Bake the beetroot if you prefer: rub with a little oil, season and wrap loosely in foil. Bake for an hour or so at 180degC until tender. Serves two as a light lunch.

For the salad:

500g small beetroots

6 radishes

2 blood oranges

1 medium-sized radicchio

For the dressing:

1 blood orange

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp grain mustard

1 tsp capers

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp runny honey


Trim and scrub the beetroots, taking care not to tear their skins. Bring a deep pan of water to the boil, add the beetroots, lower the heat a little so the water simmers, then cook for about an hour. They are done when you can easily pierce the flesh with a skewer. Drain and leave to cool.

Cut the radishes in half lengthways and put them in a mixing bowl. Remove the peel from the oranges with a sharp knife, trimming away every bit of white pith, then slice the fruit into thin rounds. Add them to the radishes. Peel and thinly slice the beetroot and add them to the oranges.

Make the dressing: halve the orange and squeeze the juice into a bowl; stir in the wine vinegar, mustard, capers and olive oil. Stir in the honey and season. Pour the dressing over the beetroot and oranges and leave for a good 10 minutes.

Pull the radicchio apart and wash the leaves. Shake them dry, then toss them lightly with the oranges and beetroots, and arrange on a serving dish.

I suggest Comice, but any pear will do...

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