This is a satisfying dish to eat, as it brings together flavours and textures that are both complimentary and contrasting, the Smokey Chilli Jelly enhancing the natural characteristics of both the Freekah and beetroot with a mellow – chilli richness. This dish would be perfect as a base for grilled salmon or lamb.
3 large beetroot
30g butter or 2 tbsp Pepe Extra Virgin Olive Oil, if you prefer
1 onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp fine salt
200g Freekah, rinsed under cold water
½ tsp ground cinnamon
500ml vegetable stock, or water
50g walnuts – we could condense this bit to ‘toasted walnuts’ and then take a step out.
250g Greek style yoghurt
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp baharat
1 small garlic clove, peeled and grated
3 tbsp Smokey Chilli Jelly
75g unsalted butter
Sea salt, to taste
1 handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Remove any stalk and leaves from the beetroot, wash under cold water and scrub any dirt away. Put in a pan, fill with water till the beetroots are covered and turn the heat to full. Once boiling, turn the heat down and put a lid on, making sure the water is always gently bubbling and that the beetroots are covered.
Put a small pan on a medium heat, add the butter and when melted add the onions and salt. Cook till the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, stirring now and again, around 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cinnamon and cook for a minute to release its flavour and then add the Freekah, stirring well to coat. Pour in the stock, or water and turn the heat up so the liquid starts to boil but then turn it down so it simmers. The Freekah should take around 20 minutes to cook, so check at this point and if it feels too chewy for your liking, add some more liquid and continue to cook. You want some liquid left in the pan but not for the Freekah to be swimming in it. When ready, season with sea salt and set aside with a lid on, to keep warm.
Empty the yoghurt into a bowl and mix with the salt, black pepper, baharat and garlic. Stir till well combined and set aside.
Set an oven to 160C. Toss the walnuts with the salt and oil and lay on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes then take out and allow to cool.
Check the beetroots after around hour by inserting a sharp knife into the middle and if there is minimal resistance, they’re ready. Carefully strain into a colander then place in a bowl and run cold water over them till they are cool enough to handle. To peel them, its sensible to wear a pair of gloves, as they will stain your hands. Rub the skin off with your thumbs, using kitchen paper for traction if its particularly stubborn. Once peeled, slice the beetroots into wedges place in a tray with kitchen paper to help them dry.
Put a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the butter and once it begins to foam add the beetroots and a pinch of sea salt. After 2 – 3 minutes, turn the beetroots over and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Now add the Smokey Chilli Jelly, which will gradually melt in the butter. Keep the heat on medium to high and frequently toss the beetroots in the sugary, buttery mix for 2 to 3 minutes. As the sugars cook the beetroots will take on a glazed appearance but take care not to go too far, as the they will start to burn but adding a little more butter and taking the pan off the heat will stop the cooking. Season with sea salt to taste.
To plate, spread the warm Freekah on the bottom and then place the beetroot wedges on top. Drizzle the yoghurt over everything, then break the walnuts into pieces, scatter some mint and lastly, drizzle the smokey, buttery pan juice over the top.