Black sesame offers a rich, sweet, earthy nuttiness that mirrors the flavour of roasted beetroot (beets).
This recipe celebrates the whole vegetable – incorporating the juice, the leaves and the stem, ensuring that nothing is wasted – while adding texture and flavour
• 8 medium beetroot (beets), stems and leaves attached
• 2 junipers berries, crushed with the back of a spoon
• 4 black peppercorns
• 20ml aged red-wine vinegar
• sea salt
• 60g black sesame seeds
• 50ml arbequina olive oil
• 100g cooked chickpeas
• 40g greek yoghurt
• zest and juice of 1/2 lime, plus extra zest for serving
For the sweet pickle:
• 50ml filtered water
• 50ml red-wine vinegar
• 50g sugar
• 1 juniper berry, crushed with the back of a spoon
1 Prepare your embers.
2 Prepare the beetroot by removing and reserving the stems and leaves. Wash the beetroot thoroughly.
3 Roast 4 beetroot, stem side down, in hot ashes for 1 hour, or until a metal skewer slides through easily. Remove the beetroot from the ashes and allow to cool briefly. Place more wood on the fire to produce embers for grilling and arrange a grill cooling rack approximately 10 cm (4 in) above the embers.
4 Prepare the beetroot reduction. Juice the remaining 4 beetroot and pass the juice through a fine-mesh sieve. Bring to the boil in a saucepan, add the juniper berries and black peppercorns, and reduce by two-thirds until it is the consistency of syrup. Add the vinegar, season with salt and pass through a fine-mesh sieve. Reserve.
5 Brush off any excess ash from the beetroot and, while warm, remove and discard the skin, which should come away with a gentle push of your fingers. Place the beetroot into the reduction. Set aside.
6 Prepare the sweet-pickled stems. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and juniper berry in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cut the reserved beetroot stems into small cubes, place in a clean container and pour over the hot pickle mixture. Leave for at least 20 minutes.
7 In a clean pan, gently heat the black sesame until lightly toasted (because they are black, you will have to rely on your sense of smell and be careful not to burn them). They should be nutty and fragrant. Remove and, while warm, blend the seeds in a food processor to form a paste. While still blending, pour in the olive oil in a constant stream. 8 Add the chickpeas, yoghurt, lime zest and juice, and blend to form a cream ‒ the consistency should be smooth, like hummus. Season with sea salt to taste.
9 Remove the beetroot from the reduction and cut each one in half. Grill on the grill cooling rack over hot embers until coloured on all sides.
10 Grill the beetroot leaves on the grill cooling rack over the embers until just crisp. Season with sea salt.
11 Serve the beetroot with the black sesame cream, grilled leaves and pickled stems. Drizzle over the beetroot reduction and finish with freshly grated lime zest.
Recipe courtesy of Lennox Hastie, extracted from Finding Fire