January 18, 2010

Roasted Beet, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad

Beets. That's how I thought of them for the longest time. Almost straight refusal, no need to try again because the earthy dirt taste wasn't going to change. My first introduction came from my Grandmother's dark, mysterious basement filled with all kinds of scary delights that kept us cousins occupied while dinner was made.  There were rows and rows of canning jars filled with all kinds of jam; raspberry jam, blueberry jam, applesauce, peaches, vegetables of all kinds including beets.  The scary part came from the Anderson recessive hoarder gene, all the treasures saved over 50 years, old toys, magazines, tools, trinkets, stacks of fabric, and the crowning glory, a stack of styrofoam meat trays.  The A&E show, Hoarders, is a kind of dark family joke.  With grandparents from the Depression era, things were saved. One never knew when stryofoam meat trays would come in handy.  And, Dad, I saw the excess cord you cut off from the blinds sitting in the garage.  There is no use for that.  Throw it away.

So beets and I haven't been on good terms for a while.  But now there's a crack of daylight in my tightly shuttered mind.  It started with a simple salad of roasted beets and a basic dressing at a friend's house, and the word rolled around in my mouth for a few weeks.  I saw this beautiful beet salad on Use Real Butter by the lovely Jen, and was inspired to make my own version.  I hit up a local farmers market for some beautiful deep purple and golden beets, and for oranges I picked up a Cara Cara orange, known for their pinky-red color. This salad brought beets back into the light for me, with the glorious mix of colors, creamy goat cheese and the crunchy walnuts.

Roasted Beet, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 2-3 as a side

2 medium red beets
1 golden beet
1 or 2 cara cara oranges
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
3 oz crumbled goat cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Scrub beets well and wrap loosely in aluminum foil.  Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Set aside to cool enough to handle.
2. Once cool, unwrap and peel off skin from beets.  It should release easily enough, but it will definitely stain anything it comes into contact with- skin, clothing, towels, etc. so be careful what you touch.
3.  Slice the beets into pretty rounds, and set aside.
4.  Supreme the orange.  In other words, slice off a round from the top and bottom until you see orange flesh, then stand on one end.  Cut from the top down to remove the skin and pith (white stuff) while trying to preserve as much orange as possible.  Then, cut out the sections of the orange so they land in pretty slices.  You'll end up with the center of the orange, which is quite juicy. I squeezed this part over the beets.
5.  Assemble.  Layer the beets and orange on a plate, then top with crumbled goat cheese and toasted walnuts.  You can stop here, or I dressed it with a basic vinaigarette.

Basic Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup

3 Tbls red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbls Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper

1.  Put all ingredients in a jar and shake until combined.  Seriously.


Amy said...

So glad you're beginning to see the light. Roasted beet, walnut and goat cheese salad has been roommate tested and approved!

Emily said...

i feel the same way about beets. It wasn't until a fabulous roasted beet and quinoa salad at a hoity toity restaurant that I changed my mind.

I also feel the same way about The Basement. Lets just say my mom has an addiction too. I hope it skips a generation...

:) Eggo