This is a salad you won’t have had anywhere before. There’s yellow watermelon, figs, dragon fruit, beetroot, goat cheese – all drizzled with my ’20-minutes Sweet Pickled onions’ and extra virgin olive oil.  Some find beetroot too ‘earthy’. Dressed in my ‘Sweet Pickled Onions’ they are quite transformed and taste lovely with the salty chevre.  The varying tastes and textures makes for interesting mouthfuls. All the salad needs is some good bread.

The Purple Salad

Prep:
20 minutes
Cook:
1 hour (beetroot) unless you buy ready-roasted ones.
Inactive:
20 minutes
Level:
Easy
Serves:
Oven Temperature:
400F 200C (beetroot)
Can recipe be doubled?
Yes
Make ahead?
Beetroot can be roasted 3 days ahead. Sweet pickled onions can be made 1 day ahead.

Ingredients

2 medium sized beetrootor buy ready-roasted beetroot
1 magenta-coloured-flesh** dragon fruit
*
8 wedges of watermelon (cut to the size shown in image below)
2 figs
1 small round of goat cheese (refer to image below) or some feta
~3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
~1 – 2 Tablespoons mint/dill/parsley for sprinkling (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
20-minutes Sweet Pickled Onions***
~1/3 cup thinly sliced purple onions
~2 Tablespoons lemon juice
~2 Tablespoons sugar
~1/2 teaspoon salt
* Try and get the width of the beetroot and the dragon fruit the same size. Only because it makes it look prettier.
** Dragon fruits are more often white-coloured-flesh. The peel is always magenta. Shopkeepers will indicate on the fruit bin when they have a box of magenta-coloured-flesh dragon fruit. The fruit taste mildly sweet, is refreshing and its texture is similar to watermelon. White fleshed ones are not as sweet as the magenta-coloured ones.
*** For more suggestions to use these pickles, please scroll down to ‘Tips’.

Method

Roast beetroot
1. 4 hours before your are ready to serve the salad (or up to 3 days before), heat up the oven to 400F (200C) oven rack adjusted to middle position. Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil. It should look like a UFO.  Hot air circulates within the package and helps speed up cooking. That is what I am told anyway.


2. Bake 1 hour. Beetroot is cooked when you can easily insert a skewer through it.
3. Using oven gloves (as it will be steaming hot), remove foil and cool.
4. Peel off the skin while it is still warm as it will be easier to peel. Slice the beetroot as thinly as you can manage. A mandolin is best. Any straggly bits should be cut into thin batons. No point wasting. It can be used to plug in any holes on your plated salad or I hide them at the bottom of all the other salad ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

’20-minutes Sweet Pickled Onions’
1. Combine all ingredients. Set aside for 20 minutes or up to 1 day ahead refrigerated. The aim is to get the onions sweet and to lose some of its sharpness. So taste the pickling onions and decide if you need to adjust seasonings or pickle them longer. It depends in part on the type of onion and lemon you use.
2. The longer the onions sit in the pickling liquid, the more liquid would be drawn out. Keep that to drizzle over the beetroots. However, remember to adjust seasoning of the pickling liquid to your taste before using on the plated salad.

Assembling the salad
1. Peel off the skin of the dragon fruit and slice into rounds.
2. Quarter the figs.
3. Arrange the beetroot, sweet pickled onions, watermelon, dragon fruit and figs in the order below. Why?

(1) Beetroot: Firstly, the beetroot should be placed to cover the bottom of the serving vessel, keeping most of the beetroot’s surface area exposed as you would have to drizzle the Sweet Pickled Onions (with pickling juice) over the beetroot. (You don’t have to use all of the Sweet Pickled Onions or the pickling liquid -use however much to suit your taste). Alternatively, dress the beetroot with the Sweet Pickled Onions separately and then arrange on serving plate. Any excess beetroots (those straggly bits), should be tucked underneath the slices of beetroot. Beetroot stays at the bottom of the plate as the purple colour will bleed into lighter coloured fruits and the acidity of the pickling liquid will draw out moisture too quickly from fruits such as watermelon.
(2) Sweet Pickled Onions: Scatter the onions and the pickling liquid over the beetroot. If you wish, reserve some for later to sprinkle over the salad.
(3) Dragon fruit: The dragon fruit is place on top. Magenta and purple can bleed into each other and you won’t be able to tell!
(4) Watermelon: Acidity in the pickling liquid will draw too much moisture out from this fruit. That’s why I keep the watermelon furthest away from the beetroot.
(5) Figs: Lastly, these sit on top just because they look best there!

4. Dot with crumbled goat cheese, sprinkle with mint/dill/parsley if using, dribble extra virgin olive oil and add salt and pepper if you wish.
5. Serve immediately as the beetroots will start to bleed soon enough and the acidity from the pickling liquid will eat into the fruits. That’s when crusty bread comes in handy to soak everything up.

Tips

Here are 3 other ways to make use of  my ’20-minutes Sweet Pickled Onions’ :

(1) Mango Salad With Salmon & Scallops Ceviche


(2) Beetroot Salad With ’20-minutes Sweet Pickled Onions’

(3) Try sprinkling the Sweet Pickled Onions over simply fried salt & peppered fish fillets.
It’s very delicious.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

These cheese filled rolls seasoned with fennel seeds, onions and parsley are brushed with extra virgin olive oil and baked instead of fried so that I don’t feel too guilty eating them.

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