Thursday, March 26, 2009

Be courageous and brave

I know the posts are sparse these days. No excuses, that is the way it has to be for a bit. The pendulum will swing again, not to worry.

Before you feign allergy or claim to detest beets, these innocent root vegetables, I beg of you to listen to reason: It was the vegetable boiling cooks who were wrong, and the beet greens, come to think of it. But not the beets. They wanted to ascend to their moment of greatness. They were cheated by hordes of boil-and-butter talentless hacks, okay? That is neither you or I and we should aim to put this fine root back in the good graces of all comers: Both brilliant and suave people like you and I and talentless hacks, as we should always aim to be charitable and patient with beet-defaming ignoramuses.

Herewith, a recipe of charity for the beetless masses. Fair beets, your moment of greatness awaits.

Beet and goat cheese salad with lemon vinaigrette
Serves 4

This is a great, visually appealing, make-ahead salad if you need it to be. I often double or triple the dressing recipe as I use it constantly and it keeps beautifully. I have tried this salad with the cooked beets from the produce section of the store and found the salad became abysmal. You really must get the freshest beets you can and deal with them yourself, short cuts will be fatal.

3 pounds red or golden beets, greens and stems removed
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette (follows), used over beets to taste
2 ounces good quality goat cheese, crumbled
Pine nuts, dry roasted for garnish

I have two methods for cooking beets, use the one you find agreeable:

1. Place the stemmed unpeeled beets in a large sauce pan, cover with water, and boil half an hour or until a fork inserted in the largest part of the beet enters easily.
2. Place the stemmed unpeeled beets in a baking dish, add enough olive oil to coat
and roll them to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees half an hour or until a fork inserted in the largest part of the beet enters easily.

When beets are cooked, remove them from the boiling water or the oven and set them on a plate to cool. When you can handle them, remove the bulb-end with a knife and then peel the beets. Cut into slices 1/3 inch thick or so and lay decoratively on a rimmed serving dish. Set aside while you make the dressing.

Lemon Vinaigrette
3/4 cup or 6 servings

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon Country Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or cider in a pinch)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon honey, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lemon juice, mustard, and vinegar in a bowl and whisk vigorously. Add the olive oil in a small amounts whisking thoroughly all the while adding. When it is combine/emulsified, add the honey and whisk to combine. Add the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust honey, salt, and pepper as you wish.

Assemble the salad: Spoon dressing gently over the cold beets. Refrigerate for at least one hour or as long as overnight. When you are ready to serve, garnish with crumbled goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.

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