Earthy beets married with roasted, feta-stuffed Padron/shishito peppers make a delightful and simple starter anytime of the year, but especially when beets are in season where you are.
I am not a tidy gardener. By this I don’t mean that I have tools and plants scattered hither and thither, more I guess that I am a scatter-brained gardener. How else can I explain not realising I still had beetroot in the ground from last year?
Anyway, I was absolutely delighted to find whilst cutting some kale that hidden amongst its frothy leaves were the distinctive maroon-veined deep green leaves of my erstwhile beetroot crop. The ruby and yellow beets, ranging in size from golf ball to cricket ball, seemed not to have suffered for my poor stewardship.
On the spot I vowed to honour their steadfastness that evening with a pretty and very simple salad that showed them off. I had some Russian roulette-esque Padron peppers (one in 10 is reckoned to blow your head off) and thought they might be happy together with some feta, a sherry vinaigrette and the crunch of some pine nuts. Spicy, peppery watercress, too.
I normally blister the peppers in a saute pan with hot oil and then shower with Maldon salt to have as a nibble before a meal – or just scoff them straight from the pan to be honest. This time I split them slightly and shoved in shards of feta – goat’s cheese or (vegan take) crushed almonds mixed with tapenade would be good too – before roasting in the oven. The beets I simply scrubbed, lightly oiled and then enveloped in a crinkly cocoon of foil, baking for one hour.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I adore beetroot, and as my current crop comes to maturity I will be sharing more recipes with you. Hopefully in a more timely fashion than this one.
What heretofore hidden treasures has your garden revealed? Or is it just me that is a scatter-brained gardener? Do you like Padron or shishito peppers? Do you always get the hot one?
Roasted Beetroot and Feta-Padron Peppers
Padron peppers are virtually identical to the more well-known shishito peppers, both being mild but slightly bitter peppers that are best enjoyed blistered in a hot pan. They are a good dinner party nibble, not only for their herbal, faintly spicy taste, but for the frisson of who will get the hot one!
Vegans, crushed almonds mixed with a little tapenade (black olive paste) is a great sub for the cheese. xx
3 not-too-large beets, scrubbed only
2 & 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided use
1 pack of Padron or shishito peppers, washed and dried (in the UK these are available at M&S and Waitrose – perhaps other supermarkets, too)
About 30g of feta cheese or crumbly goats cheese
40g toasted pine nuts
2 tsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Good handful of spicy leaves, such as watercress rocket or mizuna
1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F.
2. Oil the beets with a small amount of the olive oil. I tend to put a drizzle of it on my hands, rub them together then rub the beets. Put the beets on a sheet of foil and make into a loose parcel, crinkling up the edges well to seal. Place in in the oven (on a tray if you have one spare) to cook for one hour. Let cool in the packet.
3. When you have about 20 minutes until the beets are ready, rub some of the oil onto the peppers then take the peppers and split them lengthways just enough to form open for filling with the cheese. Using your smallest spoon or your fingers, stuff each cavity with cheese of your choice, or the nut and tapenade combo. You may need more or less cheese depending on the size of the peppers. I don’t fill them to the brim though. Place on a baking tray and into the oven with the beets. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until soft and starting to colour.
4. While the veggies are roasting, mix up the remaining oil with the sherry or red wine vinegar, adding a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to your own palate. You may wish to add a dribble of honey or maple syrup.
5. Before serving, take the beetroot to the sink and using your fingers rub off the fine skin. Then slice into wedges.
6. Now it is just a matter of laying the beets and stuffed peppers on two or three plates, along with the leaves, pine nuts, maybe any leftover crumbles of cheese, and drizzle over the dressing. The roasted vegetables taste best still slightly warm, so if you do this ahead rewarm them slightly. However, leftovers also taste fine cold in a hummus wrap or similar.
** If you are reading this from the website Easy Low Cal Recipes, this is published without my permission – as are all other posts of mine on this site. **