Over the summer we had all the regular trips to town that come with the beginnings of a new term and season. Buying new school uniform, bags and stationary; replacing bobbly, old tights; checking out the autumn clothes; even trying on a few prom dresses – just because we could! When hunger hit we would head to Pret A Manger.
In the past it would have been McDonald’s. And that is fine. The girls would love it and I would slog my way through a Filet O Fish and fries. It’s part of parenting and I may even say that I miss it in the years to come. But this summer I was more than grateful to be heading to Pret.
O.K. So I may be a bit late on the Pret band wagon, and I may have been a bit over excited at my new liberation, but is it just me or is everything they make gorgeous?
The girls tucked into the toasties and the hot food and loved it, but my go-to became the salads. And it was hard to choose. Each time we headed to town I tried a different one and managed to get through three during the six week holidays. The thing that I liked about them was not only that they were all super fresh (as every salad should be but sadly isn’t), but that they were packed full of flavour. Not just in a ‘this is nice’ way but in a ‘wow, what’s in this? I want to make it at home’ way.
So, inspired, I decided to create an autumn salad that was not only super healthy but also chock-full of taste.
As with most salads, you can tweak things to suit you. If you’re ravenous add some cooked chicken, thinly sliced steak or edamame. If there’s an ingredient you don’t like then replace it with a favourite.
The only thing I would say is, don’t leave out the Smashed Beets.
Unless you don’t mind missing out…
I agree, beetroot is not the most used vegetable and it’s totally your choice, but they add an amazing level of flavour and make this salad soar.
I’ve kept the method really simple as simple is good.
Who needs complicated when you can have simple?
The most time consuming bit is cooking the beetroot. Here in the UK we are lucky enough to be able to buy vacuum packed, ready cooked beets in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket. I don’t know whether this level of service, when it comes to beetroot preparation, is available in other countries? After all, it seems a bit random when you think about it! No one pre-cooks my carrots for me, so why my beets? But I’m not complaining!
If you’re not lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some pre-cooked beets then you will have to cook them yourself. However, it’s not hard, and while they are boiling you can get everything else ready. Then all that will be left to do is pile everything onto a plate, top with the smashed beets and drizzle over the amazing raspberry vinaigrette. Gorgeous!
Vegan Autumn Salad With Smashed Beets and Autumn Raspberry Vinaigrette
For the salad
- 100 g ready prepared grains or wild rice (I use Merchant Gourmet Quinoa)
- 2 small handfuls baby spinach
- 1 apple (cored and thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- 4 tablespoons peas (cooked)
- A few small mint leaves
- 20 g hazelnuts
- Parmesan shavings or vegan alternative
For the smashed beets
- 2 medium beetroot (pre-packed or raw (not the pickled variety!))
- ½ small clove garlic (crushed)
- 8-10 mint leaves (torn)
- ⅛ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the vinaigrette
- 40 g (½ cup) raspberries
- 1 teaspoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Pinch of salt
For the smashed beets
- If using raw beets, peel and cut into 3-4cm dice. Boil in salted water until cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Drain. Cool under cold running water.
- Place all the smashed beets ingredients except the nigella seeds into the food processor. Pulse until the beets are smashed but retain some texture.
For the dressing
- Place the raspberries and sugar in a bowl and mash together.
- Tip all the dressing ingredients into a large jar and shake well.
- Roughly chop the hazelnuts. Toast in a hot dry frying pan until golden and smelling gorgeous. Once toasted add a pinch of salt, toss well and tip out to cool.