Crimson Glory
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 finely chopped red onion
  • dill
  • 250g tub of smooth cream cheese
  • 2- 3 beetroots
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp tarrgon vinegar
  1. Beetroot with cream cheese and beet salsa
  2. Stir the juice of ½ a lemon, ½ a finely chopped red onion, as much dill as you like, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper into a 250 g tub of smooth cream cheese, full or low fat as you please. Pile this in a speckled snowy mound on a pretty dish.
  3. Peel and cut 2 to 3 roasted beetroots into wedges and arrange them round the edges of the cream cheese.
  4. Chop 1 cooked peeled beetroot finely, mix it with 3 tablespoons good olive oil, 1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar, ½ a teaspoon of rubbed dried tarragon (good quality available at top delicatessens), sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Spoon the salsa over the beets and cheese, and sprinkle with 1 spring onion, sliced thinly on the slant, including some of the green tops.
  6. The salsa is great on its own with grilled or steamed fish.
I love beetroot. It has a lovely sweet and earthy taste which is totally overpowered by the general South African habit of grating it and drowning it in vinegar and sugar. There are so many different ways to use it as a winter vegetable and salad or even in stews. It can be grated or chopped raw, it can be boiled, unpeeled and with a tuft of stems left on, for an hour to an hour and a half, then peeled and simply served with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper as a vegetable, or, best of all, it can be roasted in the oven, unpeeled and with a tuft of stems left on, at 200°C for about an hour to an hour and a half, which really brings out its flavour in the best way. I emphasize unpeeled, because even a nick in the skin can cause all its crimson juice to bleed away while cooking and leave you with a weird-looking pale magenta globe. Do not cover it in foil while roasting it; that is merely steaming instead of roasting. I tend to roast a whole lot at a time, saving electricity and time, because they keep very well in a closed container in the refrigerator. I take out as many as I need for a recipe and peel them just before I use them.