Beetroot, Quinoa & Rocket

I always forget how much I love beetroot until I end up with little else to prepare for lunch or dinner. Then, I break into a sweat and wonder what on earth I can do to make it interesting. This recipe was invented on one such day. Now, I’m not for a moment going to pretend that quinoa is a cheap food. It’s not. That is to say, a 500g bag retails at about €7.00 but that bag gets you get about sixteen servings (4 meals of 4 servings). There is no waste and it’s full of various vitamins, calcium, folate, magnesium, maganese, phosphorus and potassium. It’s also very low in sodium. At least, that’s how I justify it to myself every time I baulk at handing over so much money for half a kilo of tiny grains.

Beetroot and walnuts are one of nature’s obvious parings – like garlic and mushrooms or potatoes and leeks – so, in the spirit of ‘If it ain’t broke…’, I included them in this recipe.

Beets on Leaves

Beetroot, Quinoa & Rocket

125g of Quinoa

300mls of Water

2 Onions (I used red)

Knob of Butter

50g of Walnut Halves

2 Red Chillies (optional)

250g of Cooked Beetroot

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

100g of Rocket Leaves (1 small bag)

Peel and chop the onions.

Wash the rocket if it’s not already washed.

Halve the walnut halves (so you have walnut quarters!)

Grate the beetroot.

Snip the chillies with a kitchen scissors.

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water.

Tip the grains in to a saucepan and cover with the 300mls of cold water and bring to the boil.

Once the quinoa is boiling, turn the stove down low and allow it to cook for another 15 minutes. You know it’s done when the little ‘tail’ sprouts out the back of each grain.

While the quinoa is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.

Add the onions, chillies and walnuts.

Stir them for a  minute or two, until they are covered with the butter.

Put the lid on the pan and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes.

Then add the beetroot and stir.

Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Tip in the quinoa (which should have absorbed all the water).

Stir.

Empty the rocket into a large bowl.

Pour the beetroot and quinoa over the leaves.

We had this with boiled and buttered spuds.  Yum!

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Potato Cakes & Beetroot Salad

Let me tell you a secret.

You remember the original Austerity Bites series, where I said I had an unusually small amount of money to spend on food? Well, the truth is that it isn’t all that unusual for me to struggle to make sure that my girls have a well-balanced diet.

Of course, I know I’m not alone, which is what gives me the courage to keep writing these blog posts. If I thought I was the only one engaged in this constant attempt to provide delicious, nutritious meals for my family, I’d be too ashamed to mention it. Knowing that there’s loads of us in the same boat makes this feel like fun – like we’re this fraternity of cupboard-scrapers who are making a game out of rustling up stone-soup for our loved ones.

Today, I had six of those lovely Wexford potatoes left from last weekend, and felt it was time to use them up before they went rubbery. Kashmira, my youngest, expressed a desire for potato cakes so that’s what I made today.

Potato Cakes

6 Potatoes

2 Tablespoons of Plain Flour

1 Medium Egg

2 Spring Onions

Salt & Pepper to Season

Oil for Shallow Frying

Peel the potatoes and put them in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover them.

Put the saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down low and simmer the potatoes for another 10-15 minutes.

When they are cooked enough for a fork to penetrate – but before the spuds fall apart – turn the heat off and drain the potatoes.

Mash the potatoes slightly – you want them still in discernible chunks rather than pureed.

Trim the spring onions (cut off the hairy bits at the root end and any withered bits at the tips – basically, get rid of any bit you wouldn’t want to eat) and snip them into the pot with the potatoes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Form the potato mix into patties. I do this with my hands: Remove your rings, wash your hands and flour them slightly. Take a ball of the mix – about the size of a ping-pong ball – in your hands and flatten it into a disc about 3 cms thick.

If you don’t fancy handling your potato cakes, though, you can use a soup spoon and a spatula. Use the spoon to scoop the mix out and the spatula to flatten it down slightly.

Heat the oil in your frying pan and put 3-4 of the potato cakes in the pan. Cook, for about three minutes each side.

I got a baker’s dozen out of this mix and we had it with the avocado dip I made the other day.

Potato Cakes

With that, we had a beetroot salad – it was one of those invented recipes. You know the ones – they can go horribly right or horribly wrong…..this one worked, for which I was grateful.

Beetroot Salad

3 Vacuum-Packed Beetroot

2cms of Ginger

1 Apple

2 Carrots

3 Sticks of Celery

1 Apple

50g Walnuts

Olive Oil (about a tablespoon – enough to make the salad glisten)

Juice of Half a Lemon

1 Teaspoon of Cumin Seeds

Peel the carrots and the ginger.

Trim the celery.

Chop the celery, carrots and beetroots into bite-sized pieces and mix them together.

Halve and toast the walnuts in a dry pan.

Add them to the vegetables.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan – this takes just a minute, they burn really quickly.

Add the seeds to the vegetables.

Peel the ginger and grate it into the bowl.

Add the lemon juice.

Drizzle the olive oil over the salad.

Mix well.

Enjoy!