Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Beet It

I so remember being served a bowl-full of dark red soup lightened to a fuchsia once one swirled in the sour cream. That bowl of borscht was the extent of my experience with beets for many years, and to make the introductions worst, it came from a jar.

It was not until I was living in Australia and learned the pleasures and subtleties of this subterranean root ball. The ubiquitous sanguine beet so utilized by all of us of eastern European decent is still the standard bearer for the beet. Though in the market right now are young golden; candy-stripped Chiogga; white, and the oblong Formosa. The golden and Chiogga are the sweetest to my palate and along with the least sweet, white, leave no stained hands after they have been peeled. The incredibly dense and meaty Formosa is my choice for borscht that now never comes from a jar.

When purchasing beets regardless of their color I always look for beets with their greens still attached. It immediately lets me know they are fresh, and have not spent too much time off the farm. Plus those beautiful leaves are completely edible, and I wash them and saut̩ them just like I might spinach. My favorite way to cook the beet is to trim off their stems and cut away the root tail then wrap the beets in aluminum foil with about a quarter cup of water. Into a 350 degree until fork tender Рanywhere from 15 minute to 60 Рdepending on their size and freshness. Then while still hot I rub the skin off. Now you are ready. An alternative non-cook option is to by the freshest, baby beets and scrub then well. I slice them thin and drizzle them with lemon juice, coarse salt and olive oil for an easy salad.

Smoked Salmon, Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese and Marinated Red Onions
with Citrus Vinaigrette
-- yields 6 servings

1 large red onion
1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
3 beets (approx 3/4 pound)
11 ounce log goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped dill leaves
1/2 pound sliced smoked salmon
1/2 cup light toasted whole walnuts
12 croutons

Cut the onion in half through the root, and then slice the onion paper thin. Toss the sliced onion with the champagne vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap the beet in aluminum foil, drizzled with a 1/4 cup of water, and place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until fork tender. Cool slightly and then rub the skin off the beets. Slice the beets into 1/4” thin rounds.

Place the goat cheese in the freeze for 30 minutes. It is easier to slice the cheese if it’s firm. Slice the goat cheese into 12 pieces and roll in the chopped dill.

Assemble the plate by placing three slices of salmon on the plate along the outer parameter. In the center place the some marinated onions, sliced beet and the goat cheese sitting on top of the croutons. Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with walnuts.

Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 cup fresh orange juice(from about 2 oranges)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1 cup olive oil

Mix the orange juice, mustard, salt and pepper together to blend. Then slowly whisk in the oil.

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