I am astonished at how much I love beetroot. And salmon and horseradish for that matter. My early introductions to all three did not bode well for them featuring in any way, shape or form in my kitchen. By all rights I should still be shunning them, and anything made with them. I shudder to recall the treatment of these fine foods in the unenlightened 70s. But then, we were still in thrall to boxed macaroni-cheese and tinned meat pies.
Not much was left au natural in those days, except perhaps personal grooming…
Beetroot in the1970s (when I was a nipper/sulky teen) was heavily vinegared. Ditto horseradish. Salmon was steamed through to the texture of tinned tuna, firm as a steak and often a bit whiffy. It also sat in an evil pool of white goo, daring you to spear it. I should probably add at this point that my parents – my mother – was not responsible for these heinous crimes against budding tastebuds; these deeds were performed in the school kitchen.
Fast forward – ahem – 40 years, and all of these foods and flavours are favourites of mine. Salmon is Scottish and top quality from my weekly Pittenweem fish van rather than who-knows and school-budget; beetroot is raw, steamed, juiced, roasted, baked, borschted (a made up word; don’t bother looking it up) and heavens knows what all. These days you are as likely to find it in a chocolate cake as flour. Horseradish, well it is easy enough to find it finely grated and stuffed in a jar, waiting to be paired with something just like this.
Hand on heart this is one of our favourite quick weekday meals. Well, quick if you 86 the potatoes. But why do that? The marriage of softly flaked beetroot salmon with delicately crisped potato is worth the extra 10 minutes or so tagged on after the fish. But if that is too much waiting, or you still don’t ‘do carbs’ (seriously, get over that), just serve it with a pile of steamed or stir-fried greens. And perhaps, if you are feeling frisky, ping some pre-cooked pseudo-grains in the microwave, or preferably a steamer. To not quite quote Gregg Wallace: Omega 3 fatty acids, natural nitrates and melatonin doesn’t get tastier than this.
Perfect for Mother’s Day or Easter. With a side order of chocolate, of course. 😉
Beetroot-Walnut Salmon with Spiralised Baked Potato Rosti
This delicious meal is not only easy to prepare but incredibly good for you (see below). Considering I am keen on variety this is one fish dish that I make often, changing out the carbohydrate side dish (sometimes sweet potato, sometimes quinoa), and swapping the steamed greens for crunchy salad as the thermometer rises. The colours, textures and taste will make it one of your favourites too.
75g cooked or raw beetroot (use cooked if you don’t have a good mini food processor or high speed blender)
15 walnut halves (30g), chopped + 6 extra, chopped and set aside
Zest ½ lemon
2 heaped tsp prepared horseradish (not creamed)
Juice ½ lemon
2-3 salmon fillets
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line two baking trays with baking parchment (you can use foil for the fish but not for the potatoes).
2. Blend the beetroot, walnuts, lemon zest and horseradish until you get a mostly smooth paste.
3. Place the salmon pieces skin-side down on oiled foil (I crinkle it to get air underneath the fish) or parchment paper. Squeeze over the lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread over the beetroot mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the fish is pale pink and firm to the touch. Lightly cover and set aside while the potatoes bake.
Use spiralized potato or grated potato for these baked rostis – a spiralizer gives fantastic results. You can either bake these long and slower for a crunchier, almost potato chip texture, or faster and hotter for a softer, cut-able rosti with soft-ish centre. Pop these in the oven while the salmon is cooking, remove the salmon and lower the heat for best results.
1 baking potato (for two people)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
1/8 tsp garlic or onion powder, optional
1. Spiralise or julienne/matchstick the potato. Pop the strands into a colander and rinse well under cold running water. Decant the potato into a tea towel and squeeze. Pop the dried potato into a mixing bowl and mix well with the remaining ingredients. Pick up little handfuls and press lightly onto the second baking tray. Don’t completely mash it down as you want the hot air to circulate through the filaments of potato.
2. Place the tray in the 200C/400F oven with (or without) the fish and bake for 15 minutes. When the fish comes out of the oven, turn the oven down to 180C/350F, flip the potatoes and draw the more cooked edges underneath the centre a bit, teasing out the little frilly mounds of potato with a fork before lightly pressing again. The potatoes will have shrunk a bit as the potato’s water evaporates.
3. Continue baking until the potato is cooked in the middle (it may not brown very much) – about 10 minutes. To get it quite crispy, turn off the heat and leave in the oven until dried out and crisp-like. This is better to do when you don’t have salmon waiting to be eaten, but the salmon is still lovely after a longer wait.
Serve immediately with the beetroot and walnut salmon, with the extra walnuts crumbled on top, and a big pile of steamed seasonal greens on the side.
Leftover Magic: If salmon fillet number three doesn’t get eaten on the day, lightly mix it into cooked grains (or not), some finely chopped raw veggies, a bit of dry or fresh dill, a squoosh of lemon and hey presto, bagged lunch.
Vegan Option: I haven’t tried this but I imagine the beetroot and walnut ‘pesto’ would be great slathered on tofu and baked.
Nutrition Notes: Quality salmon has a ridiculous amount of heart and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which we also know reduce bodily inflammation and symptoms of anxiety. Beetroot has numerous anti-cancer properties in its typically deep purple flesh. But we also have more recently found that the nitrates in beetroot increases blood flow to the brain (perhaps slowing dementia) and helps us use oxygen more effectively for less effort (great for sports people). The studies apply to drinking beet juice but eating raw and cooked beetroot regularly should have a similar long-term effect. Walnuts also have omega-3 fats in the lesser form of ALA, as well as the ‘super antioxidant’ (my quotes) ellagic acid, which mops up free radical damage around the body. Walnuts are also a fantastic source of protein and heart-helping monounsaturated fats. As for the melatonin mentioned above, walnuts are replete with this sleep-regulating hormone. So, having walnuts with an evening meal – like this one – may help you fall asleep. This is especially useful for us over 40s, as we produce less of it after this age. Another great source is sour cherry juice.
A few more salmon and beetroot recipes on food to glow:
Double Salmon Beetroot Stack with Cardamom-Lemon Creme Fraiche Sauce (beetroot & salmon!)