Apologies for the stupidly long title here but sometimes you just have to cram in all the yummy things! Recently lucky little me had lunch at the Riverford field kitchen. For those of you who’ve not heard of it let me explain. Riverford farm (which is now quite a large conglomeration of farms) was one of the first organic fruit and vegetable farms in the UK to offer produce boxes. Their main farm is less than half an hour from me and our area is privileged to have been receiving vegetable boxes right from the word go. Back when they started, lots of their produce was quite unusual, I certainly didn’t know what to do with cavolo nero and broccolo romanesco seemed totally alien. So in addition to the weekly box of goodies, they also sent recipes and suggestions for what to do with your new discoveries.
At their main farm in Devon they also run a kitchen staffed by chefs who’ve trained at iconic restaurants such as the River Cafe and Chez Panisse. Everyday they serve up a set lunch and dinner including a meat dish, a vegetarian main and a variety of seasonal sides. Guests mingle at long refectory tables and serve themselves from big, sharing-sized platters. I stuffed myself silly with slow roasted pork with fennel seeds, bacon, white beans and artichoke hearts; new potatoes roasted in sage butter; braised spinach and sweetcorn; balsamic roasted beetroot and carrots; French beans with a walnut and blue cheese sauce and the most amazing braised cauliflower, fennel and leeks in a lemon dressing. And then came dessert. Table by table we waddled up to the kitchen counter to take our pick from at least ten puddings – chocolate and raspberry torte, pistachio cake with plums, lemon tart, sticky toffee pudding… Heaven!
And only now do I get onto the gist of this post… By the way, this isn’t a paid advert, I just really enjoyed my lunch! Once I got home I started leafing through the latest Riverford cookbook searching for the recipes I’d tried at lunch when I can across this tasty salad. The original is made with carrots but, since I have lots of lovely, striped Chioggia beetroot in my veg patch, that’s what I used. The beauty of these beets is that they don’t stain everything bright pink (and they look very pretty). When cooked they turn yellow but they taste just like ordinary beetroot. Win win!
Roasted beetroot and lentil salad with goat’s cheese dressing
Adapted from The Riverford Everyday and Sunday Cook Book
- 3-4 large beetroot, peeled and quartered
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 shallot
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 200g cooked Puy lentils
- 100g soft goat’s cheese
- 50ml milk
- juice of half a lemon
- salt and pepper
- salad leaves
Heat oven to 200°C.
Toss the beetroot with olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and cumin. Roast for 30 minutes until softened. Allow to cool a little.
While the beetroot is cooking, dice the shallot and soak in vinegar. Strain before using.
To make the dressing mix the goat’s cheese and milk and warm in the microwave until the cheese is melted. Stir in the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the warm beetroot and shallot with lentils and arrange over the salad leaves. Pour over the dressing while still warm and serve immediately with a chunk of crusty bread.