I remember the first time I ever served goat’s curd for a lunch. It was a long long time ago after a trip to France where I’d bought a bottle of amazing walnut oil. Gabrielle Kervella from Western Australia was a pioneer in making fresh goat’s curd of such quality and it was available for the first time in Adelaide. I simply made a mound of it, drizzled it with the aforementioned walnut oil and toasted walnuts and served it with some roasted beetroot and leaves from the garden. I have to say it was the equal of anything I had eaten in France. This is just an extension of the simplicity of that dish.
- 3 small–medium yellow beetroot
- 3 small–medium purple beetroot
- 3 small–medium white or red beetroot
- Rock salt
- 18 sprigs thyme
- 60 g walnuts
- 6 large thin slices sourdough bread, or similar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black peppers
- 2 tablespoons vino cotto or balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup young beetroot leaves or rocket
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 200 g fresh goat’s cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil
- 2 tablespoons verjuice
Preheat the oven to 165 °C (fan-forced).
Tear 9 pieces of foil large enough to wrap each beetroot. Weigh the beetroot and work out 6% of the total weight (for example, if the beetroots weigh 100 g in total, you will need 6 g rock salt). Divide the salt among the pieces of foil, top with the beetroot and 2 sprigs of thyme, then wrap up each beetroot to seal. Place on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour or until a skewer inserts easily into the centre of the beetroot. (Remember that the beetroot will continue to cook while cooling.) Remove from the oven and stand until cool.
Increase the oven temperature to 180°C (fan-forced). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast for 8–10 minutes. Pour into a clean tea towel and rub their skins off while still warm.
Brush both sides of the bread with a generous amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray in a single layer and toast for 8–12 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Unwrap the cooled beetroot and rub their skins off – they should come off easily. (You may choose to wear a pair of disposable gloves to keep your fingers from turning purple.)
Take 2 small bowls and place 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon vino cotto into each. Cut the beetroot into quarters or rounds and place the red and purple pieces of beetroot into one bowl and the yellow into the other. Toss to coat well.
To serve, scatter the beetroot leaves or rocket over a large serving platter. Top with the beetroot, parsley leaves and walnuts. Break the toast into shards and scatter over the top, followed by the goat’s cheese. Place the walnut oil and verjuice in a small jar, season to taste, then seal and shake well. Pour over enough dressing to just coat the salad. Serve immediately.
Walnuts and walnut oil will provide you with protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, manganese and copper.