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Beetroot and fresh fig salad

This is a simple salad, but don't let the simplicity fool you. It is the perfect combination of seasonal fresh figs and beets that is so tantalizing. This is a salad that is built on farm fresh produce at their peak and seasonality.

The sweet beets are beautifully scented with the spices that they are simmered with, the star anise and thyme scents permeate the beets and add lovely nuances to the sweetness of the root vegetable. The figs balance the beets with freshness and their own sweetness which is lovely. This is a simple and light salad, perfect for a starter or as part of a healthy diet.

This is a wonderful cookbook that was presented to me by friends who have eaten in this restaurant. The photographs are gorgeous, the recipes are very unique and, like this one, turn out amazing. The Babel estate is perhaps best known for what is certainly Africa's most prestigious edible garden, an incredible living project that is entirely pesticide-free (managed by a team of ducks), supplying a good deal of what ends up on the table here (a guided walking tour of the gardens is a great way to round off your meal or build up an appetite). Voted as South Africa's most earth-friendly restaurant, this is a seasonal restaurant and the cookbook goes through the seasonality in detail. This is a cookbook about farm-to-table ingredients and about simple recipes that allow the ingredients to shine.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


4-5 medium beets

1 pod star anise

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon salt

5 black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme


For the fresh herb dressing:

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons mix of herbs, fresh and dried.

I used fresh cilantro, mint and dill, and dried tarragon, rosemary and oregano

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

A few gratings of lime rind

For the salad:

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

4-5 fresh figs, quartered

Basil leaves, roughly torn

Add the beets, star anise, coriander seeds, salt, pepper and thyme to a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 60 minutes refilling the water as needed to submerge the beets.

Check a beet with a skewer to see if it is done. The skewer should go through with some resistance. The beets should have a light bite and not be too mushy. If needed, simmer for another 15-20 minutes till the beets are cooked through but still have some resistance.

remove from the heat and cool thoroughly. Peel and remove the stems. You can now either quarter the beets or thinly slice them with a knife or a mandolin. Set aside.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside at room temperature for at least 60 minutes, longer is always better.

To assemble the salad right before you serve it, layer the beets at the bottom of a shallow platter. Top with the beets and drizzle the dressing with herbs and balsamic over the salad. Garnish with the basil leaves.

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