Megan May's Beetroot and Macadamia Ricotta Salad Recipe

The Little Bird Organics chef shares a fresh recipe for a beetroot salad from her new book, Little Bird Goodness

Megan May's beetroot and macadamia ricotta salad from her new book, Little Bird Goodness. Picture / Lottie Hedley

This is such a pretty salad – I also love all the different flavour notes and textures from the roasted beets, pickled onions, buttery lettuce and crispy hazelnuts. If you want to make a totally raw version, just replace the roasted beets with more raw beets and pickled onions.

This recipe has lots of components, so you'll need to be a bit organised. Have the sprouts, ricotta and hazelnuts ready in your fridge and pantry; the onion can easily be pickled while the beetroot is roasting. You can replace the candied hazelnuts with plain activated dried ones, or very lightly roast some in the oven (10-15 minutes at 170-180C).

BEETROOT AND MACADAMIA RICOTTA SALAD
Serves 2

For the salad:
2 medium-sized beetroot
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
Sprig of thyme
3 handfuls of fancy lettuce
3 handfuls of butterhead lettuce
2 handfuls of sunflower sprouts
Handful of baby beetroot leaves (optional)
2 baby chioggia beetroot
2 baby yellow beetroot

To serve:
Aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction
½ cup macadamia ricotta (see below)
¼ cup quick pickled onion (see below)
1/3 cup candied hazelnuts (see below)
1/3 cup cooked sorghum (see below)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Wash, peel and dice beetroot. Place in the centre of a large piece of baking paper along with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and thyme. Bring the edges of the foil together and twist to create a little parcel; place this on a baking tray in the oven and roast for 40–45 minutes.

3. When ready, the beetroot should be nice and tender. Take out of the oven and allow to cool down slightly.

4. Wash fancy and butterhead lettuce and dry well, then tear into rough pieces and place in a large serving bowl along with the sunflower sprouts, beet leaves (if using) and roasted beetroot. Finely slice baby beets using a mandoline, and add to the bowl.

5. To serve, top with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar or reduction, spoonfuls of macadamia ricotta, pickled onion, candied hazelnuts and sorghum (if using).

CANDIED HAZELNUTS
These candied hazelnuts are a delicious addition to salads and desserts, or simply as a snack – well worth the soaking and dehydrating time!
Make time:
5 mins
Soak time: 4-6 hours
Dehydrating time: 1-2 days
Equipment required: dehydrator
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients
2 cups hazelnuts, soaked for 4-6 hours
1/3 cup organic maple syrup or coconut nectar
Pinch of sea salt

Method
1. 
Drain and rinse soaked hazelnuts thoroughly. Spread nuts over a dry tea towel and blot dry. Place in a bowl with maple syrup or coconut nectar and salt, and toss to coat.

2. Spread thinly on dehydrator trays (with a baking sheet or Paraflex sheet) and dry at 41C for 1½-2 days (this depends on the humidity level). When they are ready they will be very crunchy, almost like a roasted nut. Will keep in an airtight container or jar for several months.

MACADAMIA RICOTTA
A fresh, light ricotta-style cheese that is lovely in salads – try it in our beetroot hazelnut salad or a fresh summer tomato salad drizzled with some aged balsamic or balsamic reduction.
Make time: 10 mins
Soak time: 4-6 hours
Fermenting time: overnight
Equipment required: food processor, high-speed blender with tamper (optional)
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients
2 cups macadamias, soaked for 4-6 hours
1 cup cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours
1/3 cup filtered water
1 dairy-free probiotic capsule (or ¼ tsp powder)
3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1½  tsp sea salt, or more to taste

Method
1. Drain and rinse soaked macadamias and cashews thoroughly. Place nuts, water and probiotics in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you want a really fluffy ricotta, transfer it to a high-speed blender with a tamper and blend, using the tamper, for up to 1 minute until fluffy and smooth.

2. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave overnight at room temperature to ferment; the room shouldn’t be too hot or too cold, although the exact temperature isn’t critical.

3. The next day, add lemon juice and salt and mix well. Will keep in a well-sealed container in the fridge for 5–7 days.

QUICK PICKLED ONION
When you’re looking for a slightly sweet and sour onion pickle for that salad or sandwich try making these – they are easy to make, store well and add another dimension to your meals.
Make time: 20 mins
Cooling time: 1-2 hours
Equipment required: medium wide-necked glass jar
Makes 1 medium jar

Ingredients
1 cup filtered water
1 cup vinegar
3 star anise
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
3 cloves
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp coconut nectar
2 red onions, halved and sliced
Wide-necked glass jar

Method
1. Place all the ingredients except the coconut nectar and onion in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Add coconut nectar and bring to the boil again.

2. When liquid is boiling, add onions. Leave over the heat for 30 seconds, then remove and set aside to cool down for 1-2 hours.

3. These will keep in a jar in the fridge, in the pickling liquid from the pot, for several months.

SORGHUM
Sorghum grains are similar in size to Israeli couscous, making them an excellent gluten-free equivalent. Nutritionally, sorghum contains several B vitamins as well as minerals, protein and fibre, which is becoming increasingly recognised as a key component of a healthy gut ecosystem. I like to toss 1/4 cup of it through salads to make them heartier.
Make time: 65 mins
Soak time: 12 hours  
Equipment required: fine-meshed sieve, glass or ceramic bowl
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients
1 cup sorghum
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
3 cups filtered water
1 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil (optional)
Pinch of sea salt

Method
1. 
Place sorghum in a non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl with 2 cups of filtered water, and add apple cider vinegar. Stir, then cover with a clean tea towel and leave to soak for around 12 hours. Drain in a fine-meshed sieve and rinse.

2. Place drained sorghum and remaining water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a high heat. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for at least 1 hour, until the water is completely absorbed and the sorghum is soft to the bite. If it’s not soft, add a little more water and simmer for longer.

3. When sorghum is soft, remove from the heat and set aside for 5–10 minutes, still covered. Add olive oil (if using) and salt and stir before serving. Enjoy freshly made, or store it in the fridge for a few days.

 Recipe extracted with permission from Little Bird Goodness by Megan May, published by Penguin NZ. Hardback, RRP $60. Photography by Lottie Hedley.

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