Christmas day starter – Golden beetroot parcels filled with mushroom tarragon mousse, rocket sauce and salted walnut praline

Christmas food, hooray!

We’ve been thinking recently about an interesting, exciting menu for the main meal of the festivities, and today we finally got a chance to cook some of it! As well as this elegant, immensely tasty starter we’ve got main and dessert recipes to come over the next few days…

And so to the golden beetroot parcels! The sweet, earthy beetroot is filled with a mushroom and tarragon mousse, which contrasts beautifully with the peppery bright rocket sauce. The salted walnut praline topping adds crunch and a gorgeous toasty flavour.

There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but many of them can be done in advance, and the parcels themselves keep happily for 24 hours in the fridge once assembled.

If you wanted to cut down the prep time, you could use pre cooked purple beetroot, and a vegan sour cream for the filling.


Christmas day starter

to serve 4


for the beetroot

400 g golden beetroot, around 5 beetroots

for the praline

30 g walnuts, chopped

40 g sugar

1/4 tsp salt

for the mousse

150 g mushrooms, finely chopped

1 tbsp oil

2 tsp tamari

200 ml plain unsweetened soy yoghurt, strained for at least 24 hours

60 g firm silken tofu

30 g coconut oil, melted but not too hot

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

salt and pepper

for the rocket sauce

60 g rocket

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

50 ml cold water


First cook the golden beetroots. Bring around 1 litre of water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. Wash the beetroots but don’t trim the roots off and be careful not to break the skin. This ensures that the colour stays in the beetroot and doesn’t end up in the water! Simmer the beetroots for around 1 hour, until they feel tender to the touch and the skin looks slightly bubbled. Cool the beetroots, and then peel them and slice thinly, no more than 2 mm per slice, preferably 1 mm. You should have 9 slices for each terrine. Leave the slices to drain on kitchen paper.

While the beetroots are cooking make the praline.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat. Toast the walnuts, stirring often for 3 – 4 minutes until they smell toasty and fragrant. Tip out onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread out evenly.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the sugar and salt. Cook the sugar until it’s melted and turned a lovely rich golden brown, around 5 minutes. Don’t mix the sugar or it will crystallise, swirl it around the pan if it’s melting unevenly. When the sugar has reached the right colour, tip it quickly over the walnuts, covering as many of the nuts as possible. Leave to cool and harden.

Next make the filling. Heat the oil in a saute pan and cook the mushrooms and tamari until juicy. The liquid should have evaporated, you don’t want to add extra to the filling.

Put the strained soy yoghurt, tofu, coconut oil and tarragon in a food processor, and blitz until well combined.

Remove the blade from the processor and mix the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste through the creamy mixture.

Cover the praline with more baking paper, tucking some under the edges, and break it up into little pieces using a rolling pin.

Now assemble the parcels!

Line the ramekins with cling film, leaving a good amount hanging over the edge. Pick a suitably sized slice of beetroot to form the top of the parcel and lay it in the bottom of the ramekin. Next line the inside edge of the ramekin with more beetroot slices, overlapping them slightly. You should use 5.

Add the filling, almost to the top of the ramekin, and top with a final 3 slices of beetroot. Repeat with the other 3 ramekins. Gather the clingfilm over the top and place in the fridge to chill and set, for at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, make the sauce. Put the rocket in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Drain immediately, run under cold water and squeeze dry. Blitz the rocket, olive oil, lemon juice, water and salt and pepper together to make a loose puree.

To serve, turn each parcel out into the middle of a plate, and top with a spoonful of praline.

Dot the sauce prettily around the parcels.


By A. and E.