Photo Alex Harris
I love heirloom varieties of beetroot, especially golden beetroot and pink striped beetroot. The flavour of both of these types of beet is much milder than ordinary beetroot, but like ordinary beetroot it is great for roasting.
I first made a potato bake using both ordinary and sweet potatoes several years ago when I tried Nigella Lawson’s Double Potato and Halloumi Bake from her book Nigella Bites. This is a delicious vegetarian dish in itself and well worth a try. However I have found since then that by combining these two mild beets with the two types of potato and adding some good balsamic vinegar into the mix you get a gorgeous dish that is equally at home as a side dish, or as a main dish with a couple of fried orpoached eggs on top. Of course there is no reason why you couldn’t add Halloumi cheese to this in much the same way Nigella did in her recipe either. I’m just never a hundred percent sure about Halloumi cheese. I do like it, but I don’t love it.
The key to this dish is a good balsamic vinegar. If you purchase cheaper varieties you may simply be getting a coloured white wine vinegar with caramel flavouring added and honestly, that isn’t what you want. A good balsamic vinegar is like a fine wine, and a little goes a long way, so it is well worth the investment. My favourite is a well aged variety from Modena. I always buy the best I can afford, which is generally a mid priced variety as the more expensive ones can run up to $50 or $60 per bottle here in England.
Of course this recipe is open to invention in terms of the ingredients. You could add your favourite variety of squash if you like or any other root vegetable that takes your fancy. The only thing I would not use in this are traditional purple beets as they will turn the whole recipe purple!
Double Potato and Heirloom Beet Roast
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
or 3 as a main course
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in small chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in small chunks
1 large red onion, or 2 small red onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1 red or yellow pepper, de-seeded and cut in chunks
2 golden beets, peeled and cut in small chunks
2 striped beets, peeled and cut in small chunks
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or grated
4 tablespoons good olive oil
about 1 tablespoon good Balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
Arrange on the vegetables on a large baking tray. Make sure that they are in a single layer. You may need to use two baking trays to do this.
Scatter the garlic over the top. Drizzle over the oil and the vinegar. Toss everything together with clean hands so the vegetables are well coated.
Grind some pepper over the top, but don’t salt the vegetables yet.
Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the vegetables. Return to the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Sprinkle some salt over top of the roast vegetables to taste. Serve as a side dish with vegetarian sausages or nut roast, or divide between the plates and serve with fried or poached eggs on top.