Life is just……

a bowl of cherriesFor some reason I’ve been noticing red everywhere, including at the bottom of the fridge whence 2 beetroots had been staring at me in an accusatory manner for a few days. It’s not often I buy vegetables that I’m not going to use immediately, but somehow I’d been seduced by their promise and then had an imagination by-pass when I got them home. Then, Friday evening, walking up towards Highbury, I suddenly had a vision of a roast beetroot and pinto bean salad. For no reason. Welcome to the inside of my head. And then, Saturday morning, I saw some of their pale cousins in the Market Garden – perfect.

Beetroots ready to roast. Beetroot – ready to roast.

Here we go. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

You will need:

200 g pinto beans soaked overnight and then boiled for about 45 mins to an hour. Keep topping up the water.

4 large beetroots, I used 2 dark and 2 pale, well scrubbed and cut into about 6 pieces per beetroot.

2 teaspoons of fennel seeds – coarsely crushed in a pestle and mortar

salt and pepper.

olive oil

about 25g mixed coarsely chopped macadamia nuts (or hazelnuts) and pine nuts

2 garlic cloves,chopped finely .

A small handful of chopped coriander leaf.


1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp hazelnut oil

1 tbsp olive oil. salt and pepper. 1 crushed clove of garlic.

Into your roasting dish, pour enough oil to cover the bottom thinly. Into this, mix the fennel seeds, plenty of salt and pepper. Heat the oil for about 5 minutes in the oven, then add the sliced beetroots. Turn and slide them around until they are coated with seasoned oil and fennel seeds. Roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Then add the nuts and garlic and roast for another 15 minutes, until you can easily slide a knife into the beetroot slices. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Chop the beetroot into smaller pieces, add the cooked beans and coriander leaf and mix well. Shake all the dressing ingredients together vigorously in a screw top jar and then pour over the beans and beetroot. You can serve it straight from the roasting dish to save washing up, or if you’re feeling posh, transfer it to a bowl. (After all, one’s staff will be handling the clearing up, won’t they?)

We served this at a barbecue chez BBQ King John with chicken, pork steaks, sausages as well as a green salad.

Next, the caulicolli/broccoflower or whatever this is:

because somewhere between cauliflower and  broccoli lies caucolli.
because somewhere between cauliflower and broccoli lies caulicolli.

Because everything HAS to be red this week, I braised it whole in fresh tomato sauce. The verdict was that it needed a little more flavour so I’ve jazzed up the recipe a little here:

You will need:

A saucepan just big enough to take the whole whatever-it’s-called.

1 Caulicolli/broccoflower or Romanescu broccoli. Take off the tough outer leaves and the end of the stalk. Make a deep, cross-shaped cut in the stalk with a knife.

4 large tomatoes – blanched peeled and chopped. Try to chop them in a large bowl so that the juice doesn’t run off all over the place.

1/2 an onion very finely chopped.

2 garlic cloves likewise.

a pinch of sugar.

plenty of salt and pepper.

2 teaspoons of dried oregano and a handful of fresh basil leaves. Preferably red basil. Because it’s Seeing Red Week.

In your saucepan, heat some oil and fry the chopped onion for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, dried oregano and tomatoes with their juice. Cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes. Then add the fresh basil, pinch of sugar and plenty of salt and pepper. Simmer this for about 10 minutes stirring frequently.

Place the caulicolli in the sauce, stem down. Put a tight lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Test by stabbing the poor vegetable with a sharp knife, the knife should cut through it fairly easily. If not simmer for a little longer but no longer than 30 minutes. Cut into 4 portions and serve with the tomato sauce spooned over it.

This is a good side dish for the delicious lamb shanks (cook super slowly) and lamb chops (barbecue) that they have in James Elliott at the moment. Or, for the vegetarians, serve with pasta or baked potatoes.

P.S. Buy cherries! Eat cherries! They’re not with us for long and they are, allegedly, very good for preventing and easing the symptoms of gout. And they’re red. Unless they’re yellow.


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