Whilst holidaying in the harbour town of Symi in August, we were invited to lunch by my friend Nephele, the lucky custodian of one of those beautiful pastel-coloured neo-classical villas that slowly wind up the herb-covered hills that rise up from the sea. Hers is buttercup yellow. Inside, the huge middle floor is open plan to accommodate a rustic yet sophisticated kitchen with a large oak table, eight chairs and a day bed carelessly strewn with vintage white linen. The four French windows were open to a sun barely tempered in its fierce heat by curtains of white muslin billowing in the breeze. Lunch was a simple affair of grilled Kefalotyri cheese drizzled with golden strands of sweet honey, freshly baked fennel seed bread, a large antique plate of lightly dressed foraged greens and this sublime beetroot salad. Make it ahead and leave in the fridge for several hours to allow the flavours to gently mingle.
Serves 4 as a side
750g fresh beetroot
3 large garlic cloves (grated)
60ml Raphael’s Cretan extra-virgin olive oil
30ml red wine vinegar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
100g ricotta, to serve
Fresh dill, to serve
Lemon zest, to serve
How I make it
First prepare the beets by removing the leaves leaving about an inch of the stem. Wash gently in cold water taking care not to break the skin. Place in a large pan and cover with cold water.
Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and gently simmer until they’re cooked but still firm, around 40 to 50 minutes. Drain and cool under running cold water. Slide the skins off, cut into quarters and set aside
In a large bowl combine the garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Season to your taste and add the beets and spring onion. Cover and place in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
To serve, tumble into a pretty bowl, top with little dollops of creamy ricotta, dill fronds and lemon zest.
For more information about Raphael’s Mediterranean Deli products, please click this link.