A warm beetroot, sumac and sweet potato salad

by sophie on October 25, 2007 · 17 comments

Post image for A warm beetroot, sumac and sweet potato salad

I’m planning ahead a little here I know, but I reckon this warm sweet potato salad will really come into its own in dreary January and February. There is no way it can fail to bring a bit of cheer to the table with its sweet flavours and vibrant shades of purple, pinks and orange. Happily my plan should work; sweet potatoes, beetroot and red onion are all seasonally available now in the northern hemisphere and should be around for a quite a while yet.

This recipe has its roots in the moreish potato salad recipe in Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer book, made from baked potato, spring onion, olive oil and sumac. This autumnal version brings in sweet potatoes and beetroot and most importantly keeps the potato skins. Potato skins I love in all their chewy leathery-ness, and as your mother no doubt told you when you were growing up they are very good for you too (there you go, not every bit of advice in nutrition changes with the month!). Last but not least, for what is essentially an oven roasted vegetable dish this one requires surprisingly little oil.

Sweet potato has a lighter texture than a regular potato and has the advantage of being low GI to keep you fuller for longer. Orange and purple beetroots add an earthy note, more sweetness and a good helping of folate. The smattering of crushed sumac berries add a delicious tartness as well as more flecks of luminous pink, as if the beetroot and potato were not colourful enough already! Don’t worry too much if you don’t have sumac – the raw onion does a pretty good job on its own in providing a bit of contrast. If you are using a fresh orange for the juice (rather than a carton) you could chuck in a bit of finely grated orange zest in place of the sumac.

Serve this with whatever you fancy. The colours look particularly beautiful next to a slab of pale, coral salmon but I bet it would taste great with a couple of juicy bangers (especially the lemony Oxford sausages from our local butcher).

Edited to add – I was struggling to think of a good veggie protein source to go with this but the answer is obvious – tangy, salty feta!

This recipe is for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Pille at Nami Nami, a fabulous blog with a few unusual Estonian ingredients thrown in.


Recipe for Beetroot, sumac and sweet potato salad

Serves 2

6 beetroot, any colour, washed but unpeeled
2 medium or large sweet potato
Half a red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sumac

Heat the oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas mark 4

Rub the olive oil into the skin of the beetroot. Loosely wrap up the beetroot in a tin foil parcel.

Place the foil parcel on a baking tray and bake for twenty minutes.

When the twenty minutes are up, pierce the sweet potato with a fork and place them on the baking tray next to the beetrot and bake both for about an additional forty minutes.

Check that both vegetables are done. The potatoes should be soft in the middle. The beetroot will be a little firmer but soft to the knife point all the way through. Leave either or both in the oven for a little longer if needed.

Open the foil parcel that contains the beetroot and let them cool just enough to handle.

Peel the skin from the beetroot and roughly chop.

Coarsely chop the sweet potato into larger, bite sized pieces, leaving the skin on.

Toss the sweet potato and beetroot with the onion, sumac and orange juice and serve quickly while the cooked ingredients are still hot.


Lucy October 26, 2007 at 01:37

Just lovely Sophie. The sumac is a great addition and the colours must be just like autumnal leaves!

Nabeela October 26, 2007 at 04:18

Beetroot and sumac…what a wonderful combination One sweet, the other tart…yum!

maninas: food matters October 26, 2007 at 17:39

mmm a perfect autumn dish!

Joanna October 26, 2007 at 18:45

Lovely colours … never tried sumac, but as everyone is agreed it goes with beetroot, my favourite vegetable, I must try to find some

kate October 26, 2007 at 21:59

I’m always trying to find new way to use beetroot. Not really fond of it but i know its healthy n all so should try n consume it once in a while.This recipe looks wonderful And like your pics of the beetroots.Are they home grown ?

Nicole October 28, 2007 at 01:01

What do sumac berries look like? Can you post a photo?

Pille October 28, 2007 at 19:17

How could I not see this one!? That’s one of the prettiest beetroot photos I’ve seen, Sophie – wonderful! Thank you for taking part at the WHB this week!

sophie October 28, 2007 at 19:51

Lucy – you’re right, they are real autumn colours! Not that you need worry about that for some time yet…
Nabeela – yep, sumac and beetroot just seemed made for each other!
Maninas – glad you like it :-)
Joanna – if you know a deli or supermarket that sell Seasoned Pioneers spices and spice mixes (the ones in the little resealable foil pouches), they have sumac as part of their range
Kate – I must admit I wasn’t a big beetroot fan until this year (too much pickled beetroot and prepackaged cooked beetroot) but I quite like them now I’ve been able to buy them straight out the field and roast them at home. They aren’t homegrown but come from the organic market garden place that we get most of our veg from.
Nicole – there are some good pictures of crushed sumac and the bush it comes from on this site http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Rhus_cor.html
Pille – no worries, hosting WHB is quite a handful these days, you’ve done a great job on the round-up!

Kalyn October 29, 2007 at 00:12

What a great combination, and I agree that feta would be perfect with this. I never thought of using sumac with sweet potatoes before, just brilliant.

VegeYum October 29, 2007 at 02:43

What a wonderful pairing – beetroot (the king of vegetables) and sumac. It sounds wonderful.

holler October 29, 2007 at 12:13

That looks great, such beautiful colours. Great autumn cooking!

Nora October 31, 2007 at 20:51

Hi Sophie,
Thanks for dropping by my blog. I love that photo of the beetroot – I’ve never seen beetroot of different colours before. So very pretty! And this recipe sounds delcious. I am making beetroot risotto this weekend (recipe is from another blogger). I do enjoy sweet potatoes too, so I would like to make this salad, even though it’s spring here.

Niamh November 8, 2007 at 16:43

Oh YUM! What a great recipe! Thanks for posting :-)

Julie O'Hara November 13, 2007 at 18:54

This is a great recipe–so many things I like. I’ve had a hard time coming up with ways to use sumac; it’s a spice I really enjoy. I just found your blog, and I love it. It’s great that you incorporate so much nutrition info! I’m adding you to my feed reader right now.

Yui May 15, 2012 at 03:49

Oh this should taste good. I love to mix my baked sweet potato with vegetable. My Mom and me love to have cubed baked sweet potatoes with blanched carrot, lettuce, cabbage and bean sprout top with hot peanut sauce. Oh that is our best dinner. I have to try this recipe :)

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Zulkifli December 12, 2015 at 00:05

Speaking as a vegetarian, thknas for going to the trouble of figuring out this recipe and pulling it off in style! It’s not easy to cook foods you’re not used to cooking, and I’ve had lots of misses in my attempts to find good ways to prepare aubergine.Looks really good, this one. Nice pictures, too!

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