Monday, 14 February 2011

Whole Mackerel on Balsamic and Thyme-Roasted Beetroot, with Sauteed Beet Leaves

Here's my last beetroot recipe for the Valentine's day line-up, this time a main course, not just a starter or side. This is a true celebration of the whole beet! Did you know it's not only the beetroot you can eat? You can eat the beet leaves too, it's actually related to the chard, which I love. Also, I want to take this opportunity to show you how you can work with more than just salmon fillets, but the whole fish. Mackerel is a wonderful oily fish that's rich in the same omega 3 fatty acids as salmon, and tastes amazing, but for a fraction of the price of salmon.

Whole Mackerel on Balsamic and Thyme Roasted Beetroot
serves 2
2 small/medium-sized mackerels, gutted but leave the heads and tails intact. (Nothing's wrong with your eyes, I only used 1 mackerel, because it was just for me)
2 small beetroots, peeled and chopped into large chunks (actually on second thought, if you slice it into nice circles, you can do a more classy presentation!)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Toss the chopped beetroot with the balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp of evoo and 1 tbsp of thyme leaves. Roast for 20-25 minutes, till beetroot caramelises on the surface, but the inside is not totally soft.

3. Season the mackerels well with sea salt and pepper (esp the cavity), and tuck 1 sprig of thyme into the cavity of each mackerel.
4. Place the mackerel on top of the beetroot, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, till the flesh is opaque, and the skin gets crispy. (You can turn the heat up, and change to "broil" for the last 5 min to get that charred effect if you want!)

5. Pour a tiny bit hot water just to deglaze the roasting dish and get the caramalised balsamic-beetroot juices off.

Simple Beet Leaves Saute
This is done in the same way as my Two-Kale Stir-fry, which is the no-fuss method I use on most greens when I just want a simple side.
Bunch of beet leaves from the 2 beets
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp butter
a little balsamic vinegar (instead of lemon, so the whole dish is more harmonious)
sea salt, pepper (to taste)

1. Remove the stalks from the beet leaves. These are harder and take longer to cook.
2. Melt butter with the 11/2 tsp of evoo over medium-high heat, in a large frying pan.
3. Fry the garlic and onion till golden/translucent, not browned.
4. Add the beet stalks first, turn up the heat, then add a splash of water (which quickly turns to steam) and the salt and pepper. 2-3 min later, add the beet leaves.
5. After the beet leaves have wilted and all the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat, add the extra tsp of evoo, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well and serve!

Serve the sauteed beet leaves with the roast mackerel and beetroot, drizzling the beet/balsamic roasting juices over, and sprinkling a few fresh thyme (leaves only) over. A fish cooked whole has has a more moist, flaky flesh, and it looks so impressive on the plate, don't you think? Or maybe it's just me. If you're worried about the head scaring your date off, you could always behead the fish I guess.

This entry is part of Tuesday Twister and Real Food Wednesday.


  1. Thanks! I always need more beet recipes (whenever they appear in my weekly veggie delivery they inevitably become borscht).

  2. Great! It would be a shame to let such a pretty vegetable go to just soup (: ALthough, I do love borscht..