Candy Cane Beet Salad with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Beets taste like sugar kisses to me, with a little spoonful of dirt on top.

I like beets, love them actually. But they’ve been an acquired taste, for sure. Maybe it was my childhood associations with beets and canned vegetables.

At some point in the history of tables I’ve sat around there was a dish of soggy pickled beets sitting on one. Beets in a dish that came straight out of a can; tasting sour, sweet and a little of garden soil all at the same time.

Like that time I licked the edge of a dirty old copper penny; it tasted salty and metallic, but so mysteriously mouthwatering I was compelled to have another lick.

Beets come in deeply intense colors – magenta, orange and yellow – but Italian heirloom Chioggia beets are exceptionally drop dead gorgeous. They’re unassuming, gnarly and beet-like on the outside, striped liked sweet candy canes on the inside.

It floors me that nature could be so whimsical as to design a root vegetable in the spitting image of a Willy Wonka lollypop.

Chioggia Beets Recipe

Once they’re cooked, the colors muddy and fade, so it’s worth eating Chioggia beets raw to get full bang for your buck.

I have a Benriner spiral slicer, a handy gadget that makes lovely thin spirals out of firm-textured vegetables and fruits.You don’t need one. A good old vegetable peeler works just as well. Oxo makes my favorite basic peeler.

Any kind of beet will work for this recipe, but Chioggia beets are becoming more available at grocery stores with good produce sections as well as at farmer’s markets.

Candy Cane Beet Salad with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Serving Size: serves 2 -4

Ingredients

1 pound Chioggia, orange, yellow or red beets, peeled, about 5 or 6 medium

Handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 - 3 tablespoons best olive oil you have, or pistachio oil

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup soft, fresh goat cheese

2 tablespoons toasted chopped pistachios

Fresh baby arugula and/or salad greens

Instructions

  1. Shave the beets into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, mandoline slicer or spiral slicer. Toss gently on a plate or large bowl with the basil.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, sugar and salt until dissolved and blended.
  3. Toss the beets with just enough of the dressing to coat lightly; add more dressing and seasoning to taste. Top with goat cheese and pistachios. Serve over arugula or baby greens.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/candy-cane-beet-salad-with-pistachios-goat-cheese/

Simply Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Mint

Roast some beets for a jewel-box salad
Let’s talk about beet love.

The thing about beets is this: People tend to either devour them with joyful greed, like a dog might Hoover up a hunk of smoked turkey bacon off the floor, or spit them out in disgust after mistaking their glistening, jeweled beauty for some kind of exotic fruit. There’s no middle ground, no room for wishy-washy ambivalence when it comes to loving beets.

In the history of me, there was a time when I belonged to the latter camp. I found the curiously earthy nature of beets overwhelmingly and distractingly….dirty. Because let’s face it – along with the surprising sugary-sweetness of beets is the underlying, penetrating flavor of the earth in which they grow.

That combination of dirty-sweetness is kind of what I imagined a wad of mud rolled in honey might taste like.

It wasn’t until I worked the salad station in a restaurant kitchen that I became attached to beets in a more sensory way. One of the dishes I was responsible for was a salad topped with goat cheese and balsamic marinated roasted beets. I roasted, peeled and chopped umpteen pounds of beets, staining my hands a startling shade of magenta. I tossed and tasted all those beets to make sure they were cooked and seasoned just right.

Maybe it was that day-to-day intimacy with beets that converted me in the end, but I came around. I crossed over to the world of beet love.

I still prefer roasting to any other method of cooking beets; probably because it’s so easy to wrap them up and stick them in a hot oven, where they pretty much take care of business all by themselves. And I can’t resist beets that are colored vivid orange or the gorgeous candy-striped Chioggia varieties.

Beets have a particular affinity for things tangy; like fresh soft goat cheese, mild vinegars and citrus juices, making them perfect for salads.

I hesitate to call the following a recipe. Consider it more of a method, to ready your beets for a simple toss with olive oil, some fresh herbs, and your tangy ingredient of choice.

Simply Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Mint

To roast your beets, trim off the greens (save those if they are in good shape and chop some up for your salad) and place them on a sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. You’ll know they’re just about done when the kitchen takes on a pleasing aroma and the beets offer no resistance when you poke a sharp knife into them.

Let them cool a bit before slipping off the skin and slicing.

Toss the beets with some of your best olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice. Sprinkle with chopped mint, some crumbled goat cheese and serve over salad greens.

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