"A seriously clever salad from the renowned powerhouse chef behind some of Melbourne’s finest and favourite restaurants (Cutler & Co., Cumulus, Supernormal). Andrew McConnell created this beautiful mix of tastes and textures largely from his own garden and along the way shares simple recipes for nasturtium vinegar, rhubarb pickled with star anise and allspice and home-made ricotta. Baking the beetroot with a salt crust concentrates the earthy sweetness and seasons the vegetable at the same time. Each of these elements sings with flavour; together they’re magnificent." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
The tangy homemade vinegar completes this vibrant salad - proving salad can really steal the show.
- 250 g nasturtium flowers
- 500 ml (2 cups) apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2 French shallots, peeled and halved
- 5 black peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- 1 bunch rhubarb
- 300 ml water
- 300 ml apple cider vinegar
- 300 g caster sugar
- 2 cloves
- 5 allspice berries
- 2 star anise
- 250 ml (1 cup) full cream cow’s milk
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) pouring cream
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- sea salt, to taste
- 1 large red organic beetroot
- 1 kg rock salt
- ¼ bunch dill, picked, washed and coarsely chopped
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp nasturtium vinegar (or good quality apple cider vinegar)
- 60 ml (¼ cup) grape seed oil
- ½ stick fresh horseradish root
- 1 tbsp picked bronze fennel
- 1 tbsp picked picked land cress
- 1 tbsp picked watercress
- 4 picked small Nasturtium leaves
- 4 baby beetroot leaves
- 4 baby kale leave
- 4 small Mizuna or mustard leaves
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time: 1 hour
Standing time: overnight
Pickling time: 3 months
For the nasturtium vinegar, place all the ingredients in a pickling jar, seal and leave in a cool dark place for 3 months.
For the pickled rhubarb, wash and trim the rhubarb into lengths so they will fit standing upright in a 1 litre pickling jar. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, then pour the hot liquid into the jar over the rhubarb, making sure the stalks are completely submerged. Seal and store at room temperature overnight to pickle. Take care, as the jar will be very hot.
For the ricotta, place the milk and cream in a heavy based sauce pan and using a digital thermometer, warm over low heat until the mixture reaches 88°C. Once it has come to temperature, stir in the vinegar and stand for 10 minutes to let the curds form. Gently ladle the curds into a fine strainer and let the whey drain out for 20 minutes. Season the ricotta with salt and refrigerate until required.
For the salt-baked beetroot, preheat the oven to 180°C. Trim off any excess stem and roots from the beetroot then wrap tightly in baking paper. Place the salt in a bowl with 125 ml (½ cup) water and combine. On a baking tray lined with baking paper, build a mound of rock salt to sit the beetroot on, then continue to build up the salt around the beetroot so that it ends up completely buried. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour. Crack open the hard salt crust and remove the beetroot, remove the baking paper, then peel off and discard the skin. Keep aside at room temperature for serving.
For the vinaigrette, pound the dill and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle into a paste. Stir in the vinegar and grape seed oil.
To assemble the dish, thinly slice the beetroot, then place on a large plate and drizzle over the vinaigrette. Stand to marinate for 15 minutes. Drain the beetroot, reserve the vinaigrette, then arrange on a serving dish. Fill the gaps with the ricotta. Thinly slice 1- 2 stalks pickled rhubarb on the diagonal and arrange over the top. Finely grate a little horseradish over, then arrange all the leaves and herbs over the top. Spoon the reserved vinaigrette over the leaves and grate a little more fresh horseradish over the top to finish.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.