4 good-sized beetroots, different colours if possible, scrubbed, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
1 lemon oil dressing recipe
freshly ground black pepper
200 g feta cheese
1 small bunch fresh mint, smallest leaves picked
1 large handful sunflower seeds, optional
When most people think about beetroot in salads, they think of big vinegary crinkle-cut chunks from a jar and immediately say no! But remember, beetroots are only vinegary when they're pickled. When simply boiled or roasted they are juicy and sweet as you like. Raw beetroot is amazing in salads, giving you a deep, earthy, minerally flavour, lots of crunch and, of course, incredible colours! Did you know you can get golden and stripy beetroot as well as purple? Have a look next time you're at a farmers' market or buy some seeds and grow a few yourself.
Remember to wear an apron when chopping beetroot, and wash your board and hands afterwards or you'll get red fingerprints everywhere. If your knife skills aren't up to speed yet, buy one of those matchstick peelers or matchstick mandolins in good cook shops. Then you'll be really quick at it.
Dress the beetroot and pear matchsticks in a little of the lemon oil dressing and season with some salt and pepper. Taste to check that the flavours are balanced and lovely, and add a little more lemon juice to check the sweetness of the pears and beetroots if you need to.
Divide the salad between four plates or put it on a big platter, crumble over the creamy white feta, and sprinkle over the baby mint leaves and the sunflower seeds if you're using them. Simple, but it's a treat and a half.