I wanted to cook this dish as an opener for a pretty heavy 5 course dinner that I had been planning for a while, and so I was looking for a dish that was more amuse bouche than appetizer, something tasty, light and striking in appearance. In the end I think this plate here checked all the right boxes, and was a huge success. Although all the individual components are fairly simple, the final result is a mouthful of complex, layered flavors that was totally enjoyable. For those with a less adventurous disposition, I recommend replacing the caviar with 4-5 Parmesan shavings per plate. It comes at the expense of appearance but works just as well (basically adding saltiness to an otherwise predominantly sweet dish)
Below are the directions to preparing this great starter, quantities adjusted to make about 5 servings (you’ll be left with some granita and beetroot purée however)
For the vegetables
Cut some fresh red radishes into small discs the size of a men’s watch, I used a mandolin on a 1.5mm thickness setting but felt they were a tad too thick, next time (if I have the time) I would use a knife and manually slice them into thinner 0.8-1mm thick discs.
Using the same mandolin setting (or knife) slice a large leek into discs, use the greener part of the leek stalk (but before it turns too leafy) as this part isn’t as sharp as the whiter part at the bottom.
Dress the vegetables immediately before serving using a simple and light Dijon salad dressing, I used:
1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard
juice of 1/3-1/2 of a large lemon
1-2 tbsp of white vinegar
5ish tbsp of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
If you feel the dressing is way too sharp (mind, you’ll need it to be fairly sharp) and acidic, temper it by adding a little fresh orange juice.
For the Puree:
This bit couldn’t be simpler, in a blender add about 250 of boiled, peeled and sliced beetroot (or canned) and 200g of good full cream yoghurt, with a dash of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth, refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the granita:
Again a very simple component.
Juice of about 5-6 large carrots (1/2 a cup)
1/4 of a cup of orange juice
1 tbsp of good quality honey
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp of fresh grated ginger
Mix all the above together in a bowl, place in a wide container (or in an ice-cube tray) and freeze. Once frozen, just remove from container (break up into smaller parts if not in an ice-cube tray) put in blender and pulse a few times until the consistence is uniformly flakey. Don’t overwork it in the blender because it would then be bound to melt quite quickly.
As for the caviar, I used half a teaspoon’s worth per plate and just shaped it into little quenelles.
The portioning per serving I used were:
About 2 1/2 tbsp of puree as a base for the plate
7-8 radish discs (you’ll need to use about 10-12 if you manually slice it into really thin strips) and a pinch of the leek.
1 tbsp sized quenelle of the granita
1/2 tsp sized quenelle of the caviar
And as I’ve noted above, if you want, you can replace the caviar with 4-5 shavings of fresh parmesan cheese. Hope you enjoy!