29 September 2011

Peppered Mackerel with Sweetfire® Beetroot Couscous and horseradish cream

On to my next - and just as successful, but in a very different way - beetroot concoction for the "So you think you know beetroot" challenge.

This time, I wanted to use the Sweetfire® baby beetroot.  These adorable little baby beets have been infused with a chilli marinade and are just the most delectable mouthful.

So I began pondering on what would go with the chilli effect of the beetroot, not to mention the beetroot itself.  Here’s how the thought processes went :

Initially, my thoughts travelled down the “one leaf of Little Gem, filled with chopped beetroot with horseradish cream and with some smoked salmon on top” avenue, only to wonder how that could be translated into a full-size main course dinner.

Financially, smoked salmon for dinner was out, so I went sideways and wound up with peppered smoked mackerel.

In order to make it more of a main course, I jettisoned the lettuce leaves and pondered on carbohydrates.  So many forms of carbohydrate – pasta, potato and bread – just didn’t fit.  Then I remembered couscous.

So, I had couscous, with quartered baby beetroot.  Needs something to cool that chilli – aha!  Cucumber, peeled and de-seeded.  Couscous needs strong flavourings, so what about herbs?  What would go with mackerel and beetroot?  Fish always likes dill, so we’ll have some of that.  What about something else, to balance the earthiness?  Parsley, in this connection, would be a bit dull.  Hmmn .. how about mint?  Yes, mint!  Goes well with fish and cucumber and won’t fight with either the dill or the beetroot.  Maybe some red onion, to provide a sweet savouriness and lemon juice for balance.

One problem – I’ve not included the horseradish.  Hmmn, ponder ponder.  Well, I’ve got smoked fish and couscous but nothing particularly juicy or dressing-like.  Horseradish sauce alone is too strong.  How about if I were to let it down with a little Greek yoghurt?  Yes!  Then it would go not only with the fish, but also as a little dressing for the couscous – but not over the couscous, just by the side with some salad leaves.


In this way, the Peppered Mackerel with Sweetfire® Couscous and horseradish cream, was born.  We ate it for dinner on Tuesday last and it was utterly scrumptious.  It would work with just ordinary beetroot in natural juice too – just add a pinch of chilli flakes!

Hubby reckons he has never had a nicer accompaniment to Smoked Peppered Mackerel and I think he's got a point, there.
Everything was just perfect.  The oiliness of the mackerel was cut through by the chilli and lemon juice.  The flavours were enhanced by the horseradish.  The herbs provided the depth of flavour and the mint danced across your tongue.  If anything, the cucumber and dill took something of a back seat, however, I'm quite sure that without them the cooling elements of the couscous would be compromised and you'd sure notice that they weren't there - even if you didn't notice particularly, that they were!

Now, I've just got to prepare myself for a visit to Tesco or Waitrose in order to source some more Sweetfire® Beetroot and reproduce the recipe.  Get the blinkers out!


Ingredients :

150g couscous
150ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp low fat greek yoghurt (I used 2% Total)
2 tsp horseradish sauce
210g pack Sweetfire® baby beetroot, cut into quarters or small dice
2 inch piece of cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and diced small
20g fresh dill, chopped
20g fresh mint, sliced gently into small pieces
small red onion, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
250g pack peppered smoked mackerel fillets.

Method :

1.  Put the couscous into a large bowl, pour over the boiling vegetable stock, give a quick stir and cover with cling film.  Set aside for 10 minutes in a cool place, to encourage it to cool.

2.  Mix the horseradish sauce into the greek yoghurt and taste for seasoning.

3.  When the couscous has absorbed all the stock, uncover, give it a good fluff up with a fork and leave to cool.

4.  Once the couscous is cool, add the cucumber, herbs, onion, lemon juice and oil and toss well to ensure everything is mixed through.

5.  As the last thing, and to prevent the beetroot colouring the entire bowl of couscous, add the chopped beetroot and give a quick stir through.

6.  Serve by placing the couscous onto the plate, followed by the flaked smoked peppered mackerel and a dollop of the horseradish cream.  I also served some salad leaves.

~ : ~

A Beetroot health fact!
Research has shown that beetroot can help reduce blood pressure as well as its associated risks such as heart attacks and strokes. This is because the high content of nitrates in beetroot produce a gas called nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. A daily dose of 250ml of beetroot juice or 1 to 2 cooked beetroot (approx. 100g) can help dramatically reduce blood pressure and its associated risks.



  1. Jenny, I love beetroot.
    And I love those little sweetfires too.
    I mainly eat them ready packaged in vinegar (love vinegar) but a boiled beet sliced up into a salad or a main meal is so lovely!!!!
    Also, I went to a festival recently and couldn't do anything but be drawn to the beetroot chocolate cake which was the most gorgeous, moist cake I've ever had! Ax

  2. The next time you have some Sweetfires in your shopping, I'd thoroughly recommend this couscous recipe! It makes a lovely change from having your beetroot sliced by the side of your salad.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence in beetroot! :)


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