twice roasted beetroot with pomegranate
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Crimson central – this is a dish of red, red and more red, suitable for the season of flaming gold on tree branches and misty mornings.
Beetroots and figs and pomegranate – I know, these days you can get them all the year round but where’s the enjoyment in that? Figs and pomegranates are decidedly at their best from September to December, and the cheapest too which in the case of the poms counts a lot, considering they basically serve as a bed in this dish.
Beetroots are not very joyful at any time of year anyway in spite of what clean vegans will proclaim – they are quite blatantly bland. Perhaps that’s why they get to be sold cooked and soused in vinegar – to create an impression of taste. Wrong though, beets need sweetness not just acid and cold heat of black pepper if you can’t persuade them to get along with chillies.
The combination of the three reddest fruits of all (yeah, I KNOW beet is not fruit; for the purpose of the narrative, okay?) is great to look at, not so great to prepare – the kitchen does resemble the Red Wedding scene. Don gloves and spread the paper towels everywhere – and make sure you whack the pomegranate seeds into the largest bowl you have; and over the sink.
- 4-5 medium sized beetroot
- 2 fresh figs
- 1 pomegranate
- salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- soft goats cheese
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3. Wash the beetroots and trim the stalks just above the beets. Wrap them with foil and bake for 1 – 1 ½ hour depending on their size.
Remove the parcel from the oven and leave it to cool – this can be easily done a day ahead. Peel the beetroots and cut them into quarters or eights, again, depending on size; they should be in bite-size pieces.
Trim and quarter the figs; cut the pomegranate horizontally in half and remove the seeds by whacking the halves with a spoon over a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Use a throwaway tin container – trust me, you’ll be eternally grateful not having to wash up the dish – and toss the beets, figs and pomegranate seeds in it with lots of salt and pepper, the balsamic vinegar and oil. Tuck the rosemary sprigs amongst the beets.
Roast for 30 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes. Dot with chunks of cheese and serve.