Salt-roasted Beetroot feast
With fennel-mascarpone, deep-fried capers and roasted grapes
Quite some interesting cooking techniques in this one which I love to share! Beetroots are in season and one of my favourite ways of cooking them is by salt-roasting. This draws out the moisture from the beetroot and leaves a really soft, tender and earthy flavour to the product. Next to that try out the super flavourful roasted grapes and deep-fried capers, that turn into little crunchy salt-bombs, too. The fennel-flavoured mascarpone brings it all together!
1 kg of beetroots (whatever colour you can get)
Coarse sea salt (fine works too)
300 gr couscous (I used red-lentil couscous)
1 tablespoon Ras-el-Hanout
250 gr mascarpone
1 tablespoon ground fennel-seeds
2 teaspoons Za’atar (optionally)
Small bunch of fresh mint or parsley
Small jar of capers (100 gr)
2 handfuls of grapes
1 handful of dried apricots
50 gr pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 230 C. Place the beetroots in a baking tray and sprinkle over a good handful of salt. Don’t worry, this will not go into your food. Place into the hot oven and forget about it for two hours.
In the meantime, prepare the other elements. Couscous can be quite tricky to get right, make sure you don’t add too much water. First boil some water. Place the couscous in a bowl and mix through some salt and the Ras-el-Hanout. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and mix through. Start by adding a tiny splash of water and giving everything a good stir with a fork. Then add enough water to just cover the surface of the couscous. Cover with a plate and let relax.
For the mascarpone cream, mix together the mascarpone, juice and zest of the lemon, ground fennel seeds, Za’atar, half of the fresh mint, salt, pepper, and a splash of water to loosen things up. Taste for seasoning.
Preheat a deep fryer or just a pan with some sunflower oil (on medium heat). Drain and rinse off the capers really well (to wash off the salt). Carefully place into the hot oil and fry for 4 to 5 minutes (you will see that the capers have stopped bubbling). Place onto some kitchen paper to dry.
20 minutes before the beetroots are ready, place the grapes into the oven in a separate dish, with some olive oil. Toast off your pine nuts in a small pan and slice up the dried apricots.
When the beetroots are done, fill up your sink with cold water and place the beetroots inside. Peel off the skin with your hands (the cold water helps to cool things down).
Time to plate up. Start with the couscous, then top it up with all the lovely elements. Finish with some extra-virgin olive oil and the remaining fresh mint. Salute!