Last Saturday I went, for the first time, to the Ballarat Lakeside Farmers Market. The weather wasn't brilliant, quite chilly actually, and windy too. The market was smaller than I expected (perhaps due to the weather?), but the quality of the produce certainly made up for that. I left laden with bags filled with fresh bread, infused olive oil, caramelised balsamic vinegar, local garlic, chia seeds, cacao nibs, dried cranberries and a giant almond croissant for my afternoon tea - all in all, a rather successful expedition.
I was particularly delighted by the carefully constructed piles of beetroots. There were several varieties including the usual ones, golden ones and those lovely ones that, when sliced horizontally reveal rings of purpley pink and gold (I apologise for not referring to the different varieties by name, but I have yet to become an expert in this field).
Whilst I don't have a garden of my own, I am fortunate enough to have a good friend with a productive vegie patch in which I am allowed to potter. Sometime ago we planted some beetroot seeds, and on my return from two weeks in India, I was thrilled to find the crop ready for harvesting. So far I have made good use of the greens by sautéing them slightly and serving them as a side drizzled with olive oil and lightly seasoned, or in salads and stir fries. The roots have been turned into beetroot gnocchi, roasted, or grated and caramelised with balsamic vinegar to be devoured with bull-boar sausages from my new favourite butcher - John Harbour Quality Butcher (615 Lydiard Street, Ballarat).
3-4 medium sized beetroots
1 cup uncooked chickpeas
1 red chilli
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. tahini
Salt and pepper
Place 1 cup of chickpeas, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt into a saucepan filled with cold water (approx. 1 cup of chickpeas to 3 cups of water).
Scrub beetroots and place in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the beetroots are cooked through (stab with a knife, when the beetroot slides off, it is cooked).
When the beetroots are cool, peel and chop into chunks; process with the chickpeas, some finely chopped red chilli, seeds removed (add as much or as little as you wish) and a clove of garlic.
Slowly add a few lugs of olive oil (this will alter the texture and flavour).
Add tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.