Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eat Your Beets (trust me, you'll like 'em!)

I spent last week in Las Vegas at my Union convention.  Don't get me wrong- I had a great time.  It's just that a week in Vegas feels like a month anywhere else.  Late nights, long receptions, plenty of cocktails, late nights, delicious rich food, late nights.  It's exhausting.  I woke up Saturday morning in my own bed and committed myself to trying to stave off the lung cancer I'm pretty sure I developed by spending a week in smoky Vegas casinos.  I got 9 hours of sleep, went straight to the gym, ate a fully-vegan lunch, bought a bunch of beautiful veggies at the farmers' market, and breathed in as much fresh Alaskan air as I could.

I almost feel whole again.

Spending time at my local farmers' market instantly makes me feel better.  I'm pretty sure that just by staring at the vegetables, my LDL cholesterol levels drop.  I think I've mentioned this before, but the farmers market is a dangerous place for a girl like me.  I go there for onions and kale, and come home with enough produce to stock my neighborhood grocery store.  I'm not exaggerating.  See Exhibit A:

From a single farmers' market trip last summer.

Go big or go home, right? 

Right before I left on my trip, I started a little beet kick.  Truthfully, I started this kick when I lived in Fairbanks the year after law school.  My mom and I would hit the Tanana Valley Farmers' Market almost every Saturday, and on one of these trips a woman had prepared some pickled beets as a way to entice people to buy some of her crop.  I was instantly skeptical.  I'd had beets before.  They had what hoity-toity, elitest TV chefs (whom I watch obsessively) call that "earthy" flavor (transl:  tastes a little like dirt).  But I tried them, and I was SOLD.  The beets were delicious- soft, but with a little bite to them, tangy and slightly sweet.  After that, I ate beets all summer.

Look how beautiful these beets are!
In Alaska this time of year, the market is full of beautiful beets- purple, golden, and my favorite, chioggia.  Lovely red and white candy cane striped beets that are beautiful for this simple, delicious fall dish:  roasted beet and goat cheese salad.  I've been eating this dish for three weeks straight, so I thought I'd better share it if I can't get enough of it!

To start, scrub four large beets or 8 small ones, chop off their root tails and any greens that are left.  Tear off two large pieces of aluminum foil.  Place half of the beets on one of the pieces of aluminum foil, and repeat with the other. Rub the beets with a little olive oil and sprinkling generously with salt and pepper.  Wrap each package of beets tightly and roast them in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. 

While the beets are roasting, make a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar should work too), dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper.

Once you remove the beets from the oven, open the foil and let them cool enough to handle.  Next, take each beet in one or two paper towels and rub the skin off the cooked beets.  Works like magic!  (This trick is a dream for those of us who are too lazy to peel anything the old fashioned way.)   

Slice the beets into bite sized pieces and toss with a sprinkling of salt and enough dressing to your liking while they're still warm (they soak up more vinaigrette that way).  Just before serving, toss with the chopped tarragon and top with the crumbled goat cheese.

It's almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.  Trust me, grab a fork and dig in!

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese

2 lb. beets (about 4 large, or 8 small)
1 T. olive oil (first amount)
1 t. salt
2 T. chopped tarragon (or parsley, optional)
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 c. olive oil (second amount)
1/4 c. champagne or white wine vinegar
2 t. dijon mustard
1 T. honey
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Scrub the beets, removing any greens and the tail.  Tear two large pieces of aluminum foil and place half of the beets on each of the foil pieces on a large sheet tray.  Rub the beets with 2 teaspoons of olive oil (more or less- just to cover the beets) and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt.  Wrap each into a foil package and place the sheet tray in the oven for 1 hour.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the second amount of olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

When the beets are done, remove from the oven and open the foil packages to allow the beets to cool a bit before handling.  While still warm, rub each of the beets with a paper towel to remove the skin.  Slice the beets and place in a large bowl.  While they're still warm, sprinkle the beets with a little salt and toss with enough of the vinaigrette to coat the beets (you probably will not need to use all of it).  Toss in the chopped tarragon and right before serving, sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese on top.  Your heart will thank you!

Enjoy! xo H

1 comment:

Marika said...

Made it for the second time. Still delish!! Even with substituting karo syrup for honey and yellow mustard for Dijon. And skipping the goat cheese totally. A perfect recipe that even my and Andrew's poor pantries can't ruin it!