The sweetness of beetroot combines well with the slight pepperiness of swede, and if you are excited by colour as well as taste this is the dish for you. It is a symphony of scarlet and green and can be served for a light meal with bread and cheese — goat’s cheese goes particularly well. If your beetroot still has fresh-looking stalks and leaves attached, they make a delicious vegetable on their own, cooked like spinach but with the scarlet stalks mixed with green leaves.
If necessary, cut any stalks and leaves off the beetroot. Wash the beetroot gently but thoroughly, without breaking the skin. Put the whole unpeeled beetroot into a large saucepan of unsalted water, bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, peel the swede and cut into fairly large chunks. Peel the garlic.
After the beetroot has cooked for an hour, add the swede and garlic to the saucepan with a good sprinkling of salt. Continue simmering for another half an hour or until the swede is soft, then drain. Peel the beetroot and cut it into large chunks. Put the vegetables into a food processor-you may have to do this in two goes, depending on the size of your food processor. Add the nutmeg, butter, lemon juice, salt and plenty of black pepper and whizz to a smooth purée, checking for seasoning.
Arrange the baby spinach leaves in a shallow dish, overlapping the edges. Spoon the purée into the centre of the dish and garnish with dill or fennel leaves before serving.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.