This roast beetroot salad is high on flavour; tossed together with tart apple, smoked mackerel, nuts and seeds for the crunch and bound together with a lightly spiced orange dressing. Includes all my tips how to rustle this up in just 30 minutes without any mess.
Roast Beetroot, Apple & Mackerel - A Perfect Winter Salad
When it comes to winter, not everybody is in favour of a healthy salad. That's why the Warm Goat Cheese salad (salade de chèvre chaud) is popular at any time of year. However, for my hot food-loving French husband (ok, he's hot too - depends how you read that one), I even had to come up with a hotter version of that salad in the guise of a goat cheese pasta sauce!
In a nutshell, this salad needs cooking to make it but it's served cold. Needless to say I enjoy it for lunch on my own, sans époux (without the husband). The portions below are enough for 2, so pick your Valentine to enjoy it with or keep the roast beetroot aside and make it again fresh next day. Speaking of which, don't forget my top 30 Valentine Dessert Ideas for the rest of your romantic menu.
For much more on health benefits, what pairs well with beets - plus recipes, see the French Market Produce Beetroot Guide
How to Roast Beetroot for Salad - Top Tips
There are two popular ways to prepare beetroot for salad: either by boiling it or roasting. While boiling retains more of its intense red colours, I prefer the taste of roast beetroot, as the result has more flavour.
Roasted gives that extra earthiness - so what happens if you do both? Here are my tips:
- I peel them first, cut roughly into cubes and blanche: plunge into boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes and drain. See how their colour just pops!
- Throw them in a baking tin in one layer. Dribble with a little olive oil, cumin seeds, salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes until soft enough (check using a sharp knife). I like mine with a slight bite to it but if you like yours soft, cook for another 5 minutes.
How do you Roast them without Making a Mess?
Before you go running to find a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from messy beetroots staining them, I have a solution.
Peeling beetroot can be messy and so it's good to just roast them whole. Problem is for any variety, that can take too long for a simple salad. I mean, this is about 40 minutes to over an hour, depending on their size!
So, rather than go for a classic deep crimson beetroot, I pick the chiogga variety (also known as candy cane or striped). Not only is it pretty but they don't make a mess of your skin. Otherwise go the deep crimson full Monty and wear gloves.
So it's a win-win by being easier to prepare - plus a quick and easy recipe!
What Adds Flavour to Beetroot?
Beetroot loves to be dressed well - something I've been working on for years in Paris, as it's a subject always in Vogue (cue your groan here.) The extra tangy orange zest with clementine oranges really compliments the roast beetroot.
This winter salad is high on the flavour scale - texture too with tart apple - and healthy to boot. In fact, beetroot goes so well with apple. Add it to this apple and horseradish sauce, as it's always great with a little spice.
The smoked mackerel is delicious as a flavourful oily fish: either buy it plain or studded with black peppercorns for extra kick. More flavour comes from the toasted cumin seeds and piment d'Espelette AOP (or chilli flakes) for a touch of oh-la-là. Just add according to your own taste.
The extra tasty trick? Add a tablespoon of wine or cider vinegar when the beetroot is still warm from the oven (picked up from London's Riverford farm). The kitchen honks for a couple of minutes but, believe me, it adds an acidity that takes it to another level. Don't worry - you don't taste the vinegar as much as it smells at first!
Note that avocado oil (or walnut oil if making with cheese instead of fish) is best added cold for the dressing. Use olive oil or rapeseed/canola/colza for roasting the beetroot first, as it supports cooking in the oven.
Love apple and cheese in a salad? Then try this French blue cheese Roquefort Salad with Pear, Apple & Walnuts.
Roast Beetroot Salad with Apple and Smoked Mackerel
- 2 medium (@150g/ 5oz) beetroots (preferably chiogga/candy cane) peeled, cut roughly into cubes
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or rapeseed/canola/colza)
- 1 fillet smoked mackerel flaked
- 2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds toasted
- 1 tablespoon walnuts toasted
- 75 g (3oz/1 cup) salad leaves (lamb's lettuce, beetroot, rocket/arugula, watercress)
- 1 clementine (or small orange) segments and zest organic/unwaxed
- 1 tart apple (Granny Smith) peeled, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (flat-leaf) finely chopped
- zest from the orange/clementine (as above)
- 3 tablespoon avocado (or olive) oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon Piment d'Espelette or chilli flakes
- good pinch each salt and pepper fleur de sel or Maldon flakes
- Preheat oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Place a pan of water to boil and add a ½ teaspoon salt. Meanwhile, peel and chop raw beetroot roughly into cubes. To blanche, plunge into the boiling water for 2-3 minutes then drain.
- Throw the drained beetroot into a roasting dish and shake it so that the cubes are in a single layer. Dribble over the olive oil, cumin seeds and sprinkle over some salt and a few turns of the pepper-mill. Roast for about 20 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted shows they're cooked. Leave to cool on the counter and toss in a tablespoon of wine or cider vinegar.
- Optional but highly recommended for extra flavour: dry fry the walnuts and pumpkin seeds over high heat for 2-3 minutes in a frying pan without any oil until toasted.
- Grate the orange zest into a large serving bowl. Whisk in the oil, vinegar, piment d'Espelette or chilli flakes and season to taste. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and serve with freshly chopped parsley.
Did you make this Roast Beetroot Salad recipe? Rate it and leave me a comment below to let me know what you think! Merci x