A little beetroot goes a long way. Ten years ago, beetroot was almost a goner, but it is firmly in the spotlight now. It likes oily fish – pickled, it is splendid with grilled mackerel – so I teamed these little fritters up with a few slices of shop-bought gravlax, cured with salt and dill.
6 pieces: Serves 2-3
red or golden beetroots 350g
plain flour 2 tbsp
an egg beaten
oil for shallow frying
gravlax or smoked salmon 300-400g
For the dressing:
grain mustard 1 tbsp
smooth Dijon mustard 1 tbsp
chopped dill 2 tbsp
rapeseed oil 2 tbsp
water 2 tbsp
Make the dressing by gently whisking together (or shaking in a tightly lidded jar) the mustards, chopped dill, oil and water. Set aside.
Scrub the beetroots thoroughly, then grate them coarsely. You might find that the medium grater attachment of a food processor is best for this (grating by hand tends to produce smaller, rather wet pieces, which often won't form a cake. Thin, long shreds are what you need).
Peel the onion and slice it very finely, stirring it into the beetroot. Season with salt, plus a little pepper perhaps, then stir in the flour and beaten egg.
Warm a shallow film of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Carefully drop generous spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil, flattening them with the back of the spoon as you go. Leave them to cook over a moderate heat for a couple of minutes, till just starting to crisp a little, then use a palette knife or fish slice to turn them over quickly and cook the other side. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
Cut the gravlax or smoked salmon into large slices and divide among the fritters. Spoon over some dressing.
• Nigel's new book, Kitchen Diaries II, is published by Fourth Estate at £30. To order a copy for £19.99 (including free UK mainland p&p), go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846.