A couple of elements here, in my view, turn this from what is a standard (if lovely) beetroot and goat cheese salad into something more interesting and vital. The first is the pickled turnip, which is the easiest thing in the world to make, and which adds a rasping sharpness to the dish. The other is the watercress puree, which among the sweet beetroot and goat curd, provides a useful, vegetal bass note.
Nasturtium leaves are good if you can get them. They’re deliciously peppery and look pretty to boot, and can be found, among other places, in the Waitrose summer garden salad bag. Any other leaves will work fine though – pea shoots, rocket, watercress, whatever you have handy.
Ultimately there’s little cooking or skill needed here for what is a cracking summer starter dish. By now you’ll probably know that I’m a big goat curd fan. You can cheat, if you lack the time or inclination, by mixing soft goat cheese with a little goat or natural yogurt.
Beetroot, pickled turnip and goat curd salad
300g goat yogurt
100ml white wine vinegar
Squeeze of lemon
Drop of olive oil
2 tbsp apple balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
A handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts
Salt and pepper
Line a bowl with a clean tea towel and tip in the goat yogurt. Add a pinch of salt and tie the corners of the tea towel together. Hang over the bowl and strain for a day or two.
Peel and thinly slice the turnip and put in a bowl with the salt. Cover with water and leave to brine for at least an hour, and up to a day. Drain and rinse, then cover with the vinegar and set aside until needed.
Boil the beetroot for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender, then drain and cool. Rub away the skin and cut the beetroot into quarters. Set aside.
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and add the watercress. Leave for 20 seconds, then drain and run under cold water until completely cool. Squeeze out excess moisture and put in a blender with a squeeze of lemon, a slosh of olive oil, and salt and pepper, and blend until smooth.
Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar and oil with salt and pepper, or shaking in a jar, until emulsified.
To serve, put a spoonful of watercress puree, a blob of goat curd, the beetroot, pickled turnip and salad leaves on each plate. Dress with the toasted hazelnuts and apple balsamic vinegar, and serve.
Want to make the most out out beetroot? For more inspiring beetroot recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.