SERVES: 6 AS A STARTER
3 bunches small beetroot (about 15-18), all of a similar size
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1 baguette, sliced 1cm diagonally
1 punnet baby chard leaves (about 2 handfuls) or the small tender leaves from the beetroot tops
1 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted pistachio nuts or walnuts
Trim the beetroot stalks, leavingabout 5cm intact, then wash the beetroot under cold water. Put in the slow cooker and cover with the lid then cook on High for 3 hours or until just tender when a skewer is inserted.
Meanwhile, put the vinegar and maple syrup in a bowl and whisk in 1⁄4 cup of the oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. This is the dressing.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the baguette slices with the remaining oil and put on a baking tray. Bake for 7 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Peel the beetroot, either by using a small sharp knife, or by using your fingers to rub off the beetroot skins under slowly running cold water. Put in a bowl then add the dressing to the warm beetroot and toss to coat. Just before serving, add the baby chard and gently toss to combine.
Serve the toasted bread slices topped with ricotta and beetroot, sprinkled with the nuts.
In the oven
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the beetroot in a baking paper-lined roasting dish then drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender.