Occasionally a love affair happens with a vegetable. It’s not something that can be explained; simply experienced with the taste buds and ultimately the tummy. This tryst gets even better when said hairy, orbed root vegetable is dashed with luscious balsamic vinegar and crumbles of the farm, goat cheese.
Beets, in all of their glorious red, deep purple and gold colors strut like an over the moon peacock. All this boasting is well deserved when you consider the nutritional virtues of said beetroot. This ancient, now designated superfood contains vitamins A and C, potassium and a good measure of fiber. Touting properties linked to lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow, as well as antioxidants that help stabilize blood sugar and also work as an anti-inflammatory, beets have it going on.
Hailing from the Mediterranean, beets were not fashionable until French chefs accepted their culinary possibilities in the 1800’s. Prior to that time, beetroots were used medicinally.
More so than other ground-grubbing vegetables, beetroot has a distinctive earthy flavor. Roasting lures out a delicate sweetness, especially in orange and golden beets, while the dark red varieties retain that of-the-soil taste.
Choose small, firm, blemish-free beets with the taproot still intact. The green tops, which are edible, should be fresh and bright in color. To store beets, remove the tops, leaving a couple inches of the stem and place in the refrigerator.
While beets can be eaten raw, they are usually steamed, boiled, fried or roasted. To maintain all of the nourishing goodness, cook with the skins on. Being a hard vegetable, there is a definite time factor in the cooking process. For example, beets roasted in tin foil packets can take up to an hour before they are fork tender. Boiling or steaming will speed things along, achieving the done state in 15 to 30 minutes.
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Guy Fieri with Food Network
- 1/2 pound beets, ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 4 cups baby greens
- 4 cups baby spinach
- Tarragon dressing, recipe follows
- 4 very thin slices red onion, separated
- Tarragon Dressing:
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash and dry the beets and trim off the ends. Take a large sheet of aluminum foil, 12 by18, and double it over. Put the beets in the middle, drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Bring the sides of the foil up around the beets to make a pouch. Put in the hot oven and bake until the beets are tender, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin and slice into julienne pieces, about 2 inches long by 1/2-inch thick. Chill until ready to use.
- Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate or small bowl and cool. Slice the goat cheese into 1/2-inch rounds and press the pine nuts onto both sides. Chill until service.
- When ready to serve, lightly toss the baby greens and the spinach together in a large bowl and dress the edge of your serving bowl with 1/4 cup of the tarragon dressing. Toss the greens and then top with the beets and the goat cheese rounds. Drizzle with additional dressing and serve immediately.
- Tarragon Dressing:
- In a small bowl or glass jar, combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil. Whisk until well h well combined, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil. This recipe works really well with a stick blender.