Recipe: Beetroot and macadamia ricotta salad

Recipe: Beetroot and macadamia ricotta salad

Inspired by the concoctions created in Megan May’s award-winning cafe, Little Bird Goodness offers delicious and nutritious plant-based recipes to feel good from the inside out.

Make time: 20 mins + sprouting, ricotta, candied hazelnuts, pickled onion, sorghum (optional) 
Cooking time: 45 mins
Equipment required: oven, mandoline
Serves: 2

2 medium-sized beetroot
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
sprig of thyme
3 handfuls of fancy lettuce
3 handfuls of butterhead lettuce
2 handfuls of sunflower sprouts
handful of baby beetroot leaves (optional)
2 baby Chioggia beetroot
2 baby yellow beetroot

To serve:
aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction
1/2 cup macadamia ricotta*
1/4 cup quick pickled onion*
1/3 cup candied hazelnuts
1/3 cup cooked sorghum*

Preheat oven to 200°C.
1. Wash, peel and dice beetroot. Place in the centre of a large piece of baking paper along with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and thyme. Bring the edges of the foil together and twist to create a little parcel; place this on a baking tray in the oven and roast for 40–45 minutes.
2. When ready, the beetroot should be nice and tender. Take out of the oven and allow to cool down slightly.
3. Wash fancy and butterhead lettuce and dry well, then tear into rough pieces and place in a large serving bowl along with the sunflower sprouts, beet leaves (if using) and roasted beetroot. Finely slice baby beets using a mandoline, and add to the bowl.
4. To serve, top with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar or reduction, spoonfuls of macadamia ricotta, pickled onion, candied hazelnuts and sorghum (if using).

These candied hazelnuts are a delicious addition to salads and desserts, or simply as a snack – well worth the soaking and dehydrating time.
Make time: 5 mins
Soak time: 4–6 hours
Dehydrating time: 1–2 days
Makes: 2 cups
Equipment required: dehydrator

2 cups hazelnuts, soaked for 4−6 hours
1/3 cup organic maple syrup or coconut nectar
pinch of sea salt

1. Drain and rinse soaked hazelnuts thoroughly. Spread nuts over a dry tea towel and blot dry. Place in a bowl with maple syrup or coconut nectar and salt, and toss to coat.
2. Spread thinly on dehydrator trays (with a baking sheet or Paraflex sheet) and dry at 41°C for 1½–2 days (this depends on the humidity level). When they are ready they will be very crunchy, almost like a roasted nut, and will keep in an airtight container or jar for several months.

Make time: 20 mins
Cooling time: 1–2 hours
Makes: 1 medium jar
Equipment required: medium wide-necked glass jar

1 cup filtered water
1 cup vinegar
3 star anise
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
3 cloves
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp coconut nectar
2 red onions, halved and sliced

When you’re looking for a slightly sweet and sour onion pickle for that salad or sandwich, try making these – they are easy to make, store well and add another dimension to your meals.

1. Place all the ingredients except the coconut nectar and onion in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Add coconut nectar and bring to the boil again.
2. When liquid is boiling, add onions. Leave over the heat for 30 seconds, then remove and set aside to cool down for 1–2 hours.
3. These will keep in a jar in the fridge, in the pickling liquid from the pot, for several months.

Make time: 65 mins
Soak time: 12 hours
Makes: 2 cups
Equipment required: fine-meshed sieve, glass or ceramic bowl

1 cup sorghum
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
3 cups filtered water
1 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil (optional)
pinch of sea salt

1. Sorghum grains are similar in size to Israeli couscous, making them an excellent gluten-free equivalent. Nutritionally, sorghum contains several B vitamins as well as minerals, protein and fibre, which is becoming increasingly recognised as a key component of a healthy gut ecosystem. I like to toss 1/4 cup of it through salads to make them heartier.
2. Place sorghum in a non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl with 2 cups of filtered water, and add apple cider vinegar. Stir, then cover with a clean tea towel and leave to soak for around 12 hours. Drain in a fine-meshed sieve and rinse.
3. Place drained sorghum and remaining water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a high heat. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for at least 1 hour, until the water is completely absorbed and the sorghum is soft to the bite. If it’s not soft, add a little more water and simmer for longer. 
4. When sorghum is soft, remove from the heat and set aside for 5–10 minutes, still covered. Add olive oil (if using) and salt and stir before serving.
5. Enjoy freshly made, or store it in the fridge for a few days.

This edited extract is from Little Bird Goodness by Megan May, photography by Lottie Hedley, published by Penguin NZ, and available from all good book stores.

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