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Burrata and roast root rave salad with harissa and walnut salsa

by Meg Walker
02nd May 2019

This is a showstopper of a salad, perfect as a sharing platter and a great way to make a fuss of the meat-free people in your life. People always swoon for burrata, and here it lends its bursting creamy splendour to a medley of root veg, roasted until tender and caramelised and piled atop mounds of fregola (a spherical, toasted Sardinian pasta) and lentils. With a punchy salsa to spoon over the whole lot, and the burrata to tear into, it’s an all-star line-up of spice, sweetness and umami. If you’re making it for veggies, sub the anchovies for capers or black olives.

Burrata and Roast Root Rave Salad with Harissa and Walnut Salsa

Serves 4 as a starter, 6 as a side

150g puy lentils
200g fregola or giant couscous
2 large beetroots, scrubbed
olive oil, for drizzling
300g organic carrots, scrubbed and halved lengthways
100g parsnips, scrubbed and halved lengthways
4 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
4 slices of preserved orange or zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
pinch of dried chilli ?akes
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
leaves of 3 heads of chicory
2 large burrata
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pickled beetroot
100ml cider vinegar
5g sea salt
30g caster sugar
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ cinnamon stick
2 candy-striped beetroots, peeled and thinly sliced
½ red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

For the walnut salsa
50g walnuts
40g tinned anchovy ?llets
1 tbsp rose harissa (I love Belazu)
1 tbsp ?at-leaf parsley leaves
1 tbsp coriander leaves
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
100ml olive oil

Cook the lentils in salted water, according to packet instructions, and the fregola separately (also in salted water) until al dente, drain both and transfer to a bowl. Pour in 1 tsp of olive oil and fork it through so that they don’t stick together.

Now pickle the beetroot. Combine the vinegar, 100ml water, salt, sugar and spices (except the chilli) in a non-reactive pan and bring to the boil. Place the beetroot slices and chilli (if using) in a clean heatproof jar or jug and pour over the pickling liquor. Leave to steep.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Take a piece of foil big enough to wrap the beetroots and place the whole beetroots on it. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season. Wrap the beetroot in the foil, leaving a little air between them, and place on a baking tray. In a roasting tray, combine the carrots, parsnips, shallots and preserved orange or zest, pour over a little olive oil to coat, then scatter over the spices and drizzle over the honey or maple syrup. Season well with salt, give everything a good toss, then put that tray and the foiled beetroot tray in the oven, with the beetroot tray on the top rack.

Check the parsnips and carrots after 35 minutes. They should be browned and tender with crispy edges, but not dry, while the shallots should be nicely caramelised and sticky. When done, remove the tray from the oven. Roast the beetroots for 1 hour in total, until they are tender all the way through (use a skewer to check). Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, then use some kitchen paper or the back of a spoon to peel away the skin, and slice them into wedges.

To make the salsa, blitz the walnuts in a food processor briefly until coarsely chopped, then add the anchovies, harissa and herbs and blitz again to combine. Add the orange juice, lemon juice and olive oil. Blitz again, then taste and season with salt to taste.

To assemble the salad, add the chicory and herbs to the bowl of lentils and fregola, season with salt and pepper and add a splash of the beetroot pickling liquor and a little olive oil. Toss to coat, then arrange on a sharing platter. Top with the roast beetroots, carrots, shallots, parsnips and burrata, then dress with the salsa. Drain the beetroot from the pickling juice (reserving the juice for another use). Scatter over the pickled beetroot and serve with extra salsa on the side.


Extracted from The Joyful Home Cook by Rosie Birkett (HarperCollins, approx €23). Photography by Helen Cathcart.


Rosie Birkett, photograph © Helen Cathcart