Spicy Beetroot, Leek & Walnut Salad
Dee – Tamarind was the featured ingredient from October 2013, and presented the greatest challenge to date for me when selecting the recipe to use it in. It all stems from a cooking disaster that Jay and me had a few years ago when we used 4 tablespoons of tamarind concentrate in a recipe which called for 4 tablespoons of ‘tamarind’. The results were…well, you can imagine I’m sure. Anyway, from that moment on, we’ve both been extremely wary of any recipe in which it featured. We’ve learned from our mistake though, and have brought the tamarind concentrate under control, so that it imparts its distinctive sour, earthy flavour without completely overpowering the dish that it’s featured in. As yet though, we haven’t used tamarind in any other form.
On to the recipe in hand, and I chose this one firstly because Jay is a big lover of beetroot, and secondly because I was drawn to its colourful and photogenic qualities. It is described as being influenced by the cuisine of Georgia, which we sampled and enjoyed as part of our world cuisines project (click here for details)
The tamarind formed the basis of the salad dressing, where it was accompanied by cider vinegar, chilli, garlic, walnuts and seasoning. It worked very well with the other ingredients, and as mentioned previously made its presence felt without swamping the other ingredients.
The salad had a very earthy flavour, without the sharpness that I was expecting. The pomegranate seeds, added at the end as a garnish, provided small bites of sweetness to add a bit of variety. We used ready-cooked beetroots, so the salad was extremely simple to prepare, the most difficult part being the slicing of the cooked leeks into bite sized pieces without them breaking apart.Despite the salad having chunky beetroot and leeks and a strongly flavoured dressing, it didn’t quite make for a complete meal in its own right. On the other hand, it was too substantial to serve as an accompaniment to meat, fish or vegetables, so we went for what we considered the best way to enjoy it, as part of a meze/tapas type meal consisting of three different salads.
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