Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Seasonal Beet Salads

Beets. The line is clearly marked. It's either "yes" or "no". There is no "maybe" with beets.
I am the only person at this web address who will eat beets. If you don't like beets, don't run away just yet. This same idea could be used substituting roasted carrots for the beets (see archives: 9/24/14). What follows is less a recipe but more of a way to approach beet salads throughout the season.
Stick with me, you will understand.
Most beet salads you find in restaurants combine the beets with cheese, usually goat or blue cheese since it complements and off-sets the sweetness of the beets, along with some greens, and nuts.  Recently while out with youngest daughter I had a beet salad composed in this manner but the result was cloyingly sweet, using a balsamic vinegar glaze and candied nuts. Sweet upon sweet upon sweet. It was sweeter than some desserts.
So dodging the incredulous looks of my family members, I have been making roasted beet salads. I added some strawberries since they were also in season. I crumbled some blue cheese (gorgonzola dolce) onto the plate, added a few toasted walnuts and some locally grown pea shoots. As the season changes, the strawberries can be replaced with another seasonal berry. You can change the cheese (Birchrun Farms blue? A nice local goat cheese? What about cheddar or a jalapeno jack cheese?), the nuts (hazelnuts? pecans?), and the greens.
You get the idea. Own it.

Instead of boiling, roasting has become the preferred cooking method for beets. Cooking times will wary depending on the size of the beets.
To roast beets:
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the beets, trim the root ends and cut off the beet greens, if attached. (The beet greens can be sauteed as a replacement for spinach or another green.) Place the beets on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the beets with olive oil, season with salt and black pepper. You could also add a few springs of fresh thyme, too. Wrap the beets, place the beets onto a baking tray and roast the beets for about 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the beets. The beets are done when they are easily pierced with the point of a knife. Remove from the oven. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins (red beets can stain so you might choose to wear a pair of disposable food prep gloves), discard the skins, and store the beets in a covered container in the refrigerator until needed.

Before serving, dice the beets and toss them in a white balsamic vinaigrette (Follow the basic ratio of 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar mixed with 2 or 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; season with salt, ground black pepper, and a bit of sugar. Mix well and store until needed.)

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