Next week Ottawa vegan restaurant ZenKitchen will begin its TV dinner series — featuring meals inspired by popular television shows.

On Monday the series begins with meals inspired by Downton Abbey, the dramatic British series following the upstairs-downstairs lives of an aristocratic family and the servants who work for them.

On Wednesday ZenKitchen executive chef Kyle Mortimer-Proulx will share his recipe for beetroot salad on D is for Dinner, the weekly food segment on CBC Radio's All in A Day with Alan Neal.

Beetroot Salad for the Downton Abbey Dinner

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 red beets, 2 inches in diameter.
  • 2 golden beets, 2 inches in diameter.
  • 1 onion, white.
  • 500 ml white vinegar.
  • 15 ml sugar.
  • 15 ml salt, kosher.
  • 30 ml  horseradish, prepared.
  • 30 ml vinegar.
  • 90 ml canola oil.
  • 1 shallot, minced.
  • Pinch black pepper, ground.
  • 200 g baby spinach, washed.
  • 2 chiogga beets, 1 inch in diameter, peeled.
  • Pinch Maldon sea salt, or other finishing salt.

For the beets

ZenKitchen chef

ZenKitchen executive chef Kyle Mortimer-Proulx is putting a unique twist on the concept of 'TV dinner.' (April Anne Hewens Photography)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash all of the beets, and wrap the red and golden beets tightly in a pouch of aluminum foil.  Place the pouch on a sheet tray, and cook until a knife can be inserted into the beets without much effort – this should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour, but timing may vary based on the size of beets.  If they are not done after 45 minutes, check in 10-minute intervals. 
  3. When beets have finished cooking, remove them from the oven and open up the pouch to allow the steam out.  Once they have cooled just enough to handle, use a paper towel to rub the skin off of the beets. 
  4. Slice each beet into 12 wedges of equal size.  Set aside in the fridge until needed.  This can be done up to 2 days before.

For pickled onions

  1. Place vinegar, sugar, and salt in a sauce pot and bring to a simmer on the stove, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  2. Cut the ends off of the onion, and cut it in half.  Peel the skin from the onion and discard it.  Place the onion flat-side down on the cutting board, and cut into strips – as thinly as your knife skills will allow.
  3. Add the onions to the pickling liquid, ensure they are submerged, and the turn heat off.  Allow the onions to cool to room temperature.

For the dressing

  1. Mince shallot for dressing, and place into a bowl.
  2. Add horseradish and vinegar, mix to combine.
  3. Using a whisk, mix the vinegar base constantly as you drizzle in the canola oil in a steady stream.
  4. Season to taste with pepper.
Beetroot salad ZenKitchen

The beetroot salad prepared for Downton Abbey night serves four. (April Anne Hewens Photography)

To plate

  1. Gently toss baby spinach with enough salad dressing to coat it lightly, and carefully pile it on the plate of your choice.
  2. Take a spoonful of pickled onions and scatter them over the spinach.
  3. Arrange wedges of different coloured beets all over the spinach.
  4. Slice the Chiogga beets into thin rounds using a sharp knife, or mandolin.  Arrange on top of the salad as a garnish.
  5. Sprinkle a couple of pieces of finishing salt on each beet before serving.