A scrumptious starter that works just as well in winter as it does the summer months
4 medium beetroots or 6 small ones
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
Mixture of salad leaves (such as baby spinach leaves, mustard greens, watercress, rocket, herbs)
Juice of 2-3 lemons
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 firm goat’s cheese logs (they should be easy to break with your fingers)
Balsamic vinegar glaze (concentrated balsamic vinegar, available from good supermarkets)
1. Wash the beetroots and cut off the tops. If the leaves are nice and young, the tops can be added to the salad. If not, discard them or keep them for making soup or adding to a stir-fry later in the week.
2. Add the white wine vinegar to a saucepan of lightly salted water and bring to the boil. Add the unpeeled beetroots and simmer until they are still firm but can be pierced easily with a sharp knife – around 15 to 20 minutes (larger ones will take longer).
3. Meanwhile, cut each fig into six even wedges and set aside. Wash and spin the salad, then season the lemon juice with salt and pepper and mix with the oil to make a dressing.
4. When the beetroots are cooked through, rinse under running cold water and remove the skins. You can do this by rubbing with your hands or scraping with a small knife – they should come off easily. If you’re concerned about getting pink fingers, wear rubber gloves. Cut the beetroots into slivers or wedges – lengthways is good if they’re quite long – drizzle with half the olive oil and lemon juice dressing and set aside.
5. Arrange the salad leaves on a large platter and scatter over the beetroot pieces and figs, then break chunks of goat’s cheese over the top. Add a few dashes of balsamic glaze and the remaining dressing and toss together.