I recently dated the purchase of my most favoured pair of work pants (trousers, obviously!) to sometime in the fall of 2003. So needless to say, I am not the most up to date with the current trends, although said trouser manufacturer still makes that style of pant and so if you were being generous you could say my look is timeless. It was therefore a great pleasure to learn from my friend/ex-landlord, Lavinia that my rooftop activities were very of the moment. Yoga, you ask? It is certainly not warm enough here in London. It is, however, pretty much perfect for growing vegetables. Travel & Leisure or some other equally in the know magazine had just declared roof top gardening the thing to do. So I am pretty pleased with myself. I love all my little plants and although I am only harvesting lettuce and kale right now I am eagerly anticipating the rest of the bounty. Thus, my Abel & Cole box will still arrive with vegetables until summer is truly in full swing and I have no choice but to open a stall on Portobello Road to get rid of the surplus. So between the lettuce from upstairs and the beets from the box, my favourite salad this year was born.
Of all the root vegetables, with the exception of potentially radishes, beets don’t really make me think of autumn. They are literally a bright vegetable which belongs to summer. So what better than a salty, sweet, savoury, crunchy bed of lettuce topped with roasted beets, goats cheese, crisped pancetta, some seeds and a light vinaigrette for that needed tang. Not much really, except perhaps had I grown the beets.
2 beets roasted
2 handfuls of lettuce
2 matchbook size slices of pancetta cut into matchsticks
2 inches of a goat cheese log
Sprinkle of nuts
Step 1: As soon as you get home grab your beets, splash some olive oil on them and wrap them individually in some bits of tin foil to cover them. Leave them in a hot oven (375°F, 190°) for about 1 hour 15. Feel free to do yoga or whatever on your roof during this time. When the beets are done, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool until you are able to handle them.
Step 2: While the beets are cooling, pop the pancetta matchsticks into a pan turning them to prevent them from burning, then rest them on kitchen towel to drain and cool.
Step 3: Once the beets have cooled, use the back of a spoon or your fingers to rub the skin off. This can be a rather messy process so I suggest you use rubber gloves as I do or be prepared for your colleagues to think you have extremely strange pastimes. Slice them up into the desired size and slip them quickly into a bowl. They will dye a wooden cutting board very quickly so get it to the sink
Step 3: Form the base of your salad with lettuce, lay the beets on top, crumble the goats cheese on top as well as the pancetta and sprinkle on some seeds and dress with vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste.
NOTE: The vinaigrette. Make it from scratch, takes 1 minute and is truly rewarding. For two people, put a dime or 5p size of mustard into a bowl, splash a bit of vinegar in and mix them til they are smooth. Then drizzle in olive oil slowly so they emulsify. Taste it with a leaf of lettuce and you are good to go.