Looking for easy vegan starter ideas that pair well with wines? This recipe for beetroot and cream cheese toasts is one to beat – and it’s impossible to tell that it’s entirely plant-based. Here, a cream cheese alternative from a supermarket gets vamped up with herbs and seasoning, ready to be topped with fresh beets, slow-cooked in red wine vinegar and fresh herbs. Not only is it delicious, it makes an easy homemade vegan starter and it can be easily customised depending on whether you are serving 6, or 2. Bursting with flavour and colour, it makes an excellent appetiser when planning a vegan dinner party, and matches with a whole host of different wines to boot.
Glazed Beetroot Toasts Recipe
Serves 2, or 4 as part of a vegan start platter
- 2 Beets
- Vegan Soft Cheese Alternative (I used Tesco own brand)
- 4 Thyme sprigs
- 1 tsp Black Pepper / Black Pepper Corns
- 1 tbsp red wine
- 1tbsp sherry or sushi vinegar (I used sushi)
- 2 tbsp organic sugar or natural sweetener
- 1 Rosemary sprig
- Slices of bread for toasting (I used french stick, but a better option would be ciabatta or sourdough)
- Watercress Sprigs for garnishing
Step 1: Cook the Beetroot!
Cover the beets in cold water, and bring to the boil with the thyme sprigs and peppercorns, a pinch of salt, and red wine vinegar. Simmer for about 45 minutes until the beets are tender, then drain, peel, and cube.
Step 2: Glaze the Beetroot!
Using the same saucepan, add sherry (I used sushi vinegar with half the amount of sugar, it worked just fine) sugar, rosemary, and about 60ml of water. Cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes until the liquid becomes syrupy. Remove the rosemary sprigs before serving. Whilst this simmering, toast your bread of choice under the grill, brushed with a little olive oil. I used olive oil blended with avocado oil, and it turned out deliciously.
Step 2: Serve the Beetroot!
Spread the vegan cheese over the toasts, top with beetroot and drizzle a little of the spare glaze over the top. Garnish with watercress, rosemary, or other fresh herbs for a glimmer of green.
Wine Pairings for Beetroot
The combination of earthy beetroot, sweet glaze, creamy cheese and fragrant herbs is a lovely platform to pair with wine. This could work with a chilled Pinot Noir; a wine that tends to offer fascinating earthy, animal and vegetal notes, such as mushroom, truffle, and strawberry.
For something that’s definitely going to please all of your guests , let’s not forget the ever-reliable rosé and food pairing. Sparkling Rosé can be a bit richer than still, which I thought might work nicely with the flavours, so I opted for thispink Cava from Marks and Spencer’s. This was served during the starter course of vegan meal with sparkling wine pairings. It went down a treat!
The best thing about about this dish is that it can be adapted so easily, depending on the size of your party; for me and my partner, we only needed one small beet, as it was one of three dishes on a tasting platter. It takes the same amount of prep regardless of whether you cook for six vegans, or two! Next time I throw a vegan dinner party, I’d be tempted to separate out the dishes: greet guests on arrival with a flute of Champagne and crunchy nibbles, allow them to mingle with the smoked salmon bites, before sitting down to enjoy the beetroot and rosé course.
I really hope you like my simple vegan 3-course meal idea with wine pairings for every course- I certainly enjoyed the experiment!. Discover it here.