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FOOD Beetroot salad and a rhubarb dessert


Banish winter with brightly coloured, seasonal goodness

Redmond Cabot

Things change. And so it is with food. But we need to keep our wits about us when it comes to adopting the changes blindly.
Commercial entities try to entice you with labels. Contains this or that, has added iron and so on. I was listening to a radio programme recently where the conversation centred on the values of added supplements. What transpired was that the added versions of, say iron or calcium, were not the actual identical versions of the naturally occurring nutrients, and that they took longer to be absorbed by the body. Bingo! I had always known that foods in their natural state were better than those that had been processed, and here I was hearing it in scientific terms.
In my foods, I work only with the natural or ‘true’, for want of a better word, foods. I believe innately that fresh and natural is best. And this radio discussion confirmed it.
That does not mean your food has to be dull or unimaginative – far from it! To prove it, here are two recipes that might, on the face of it, appear a bit unusual. But, writing today, it is a particularly dull and flat day, and I feel like a colourful salad, but with some warmth. I also feel like a seasonal dessert to remind me that spring is on its way, and the colourful stems of rhubarb are already being harvested and on shop shelves – a little bit of new-season sunshine for my plate.

Beatroot salad with warm cheddar custard
How about this as a colourful starter to banish the winter spirits! And everyone knows I LOVE beetroot. The warm and cheesy custard comforts and woos, while the opulent earthiness of sexy beetroot keeps you grounded.

What you need
  • Salad
  • 4 boiled beetroot, skinned and halved
  • 1 raw beetroot
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic
  • Watercress

  • 170g cheddar
  • 275ml cream
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground hot mustard.

What you do

For the custard, heat and mix 110g of the cheese with the cream, ginger and mustard. Season to taste. Beat eggs in bowl and stir in the cheesy mixture. Pour into a 20 x 10cm oven dish and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees for 35 minutes or more – the custard should be set but still have movement. Ideally, cook in a bigger roasting dish with hot water halfway up the oven dish sides.
For the salad, cut the boiled beetroot into cubes and sprinkle the fresh beetroot over it – the mix of raw and cooked makes it weirdly interesting. Place in pile at centre of plate, sprinkle with cut lettuce or watercress and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic over.
Serve with the warm cheddar custard to one side.

Rhubarb spaghetti dessert
Cut some rhubarb into strips like spaghetti, drop it in boiling water with some ginger, lime juice and allspice, and cook for ten minutes. Curl up the long ‘spaghetti’ on a fork and present in a twirled mound, with some mascarpone or ricotta cheese on top. This type of flavour burst can be served as a modest dessert or even as a titillating taste before dinner. 

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.