Sunday, September 6, 2009

190. Roasted Beet Salad (p. 147)

A lot of people don't like beets. I can't understand why. They're sweet, earthy, and luxurious. They look, and taste, like red velvet. So, as soon as I got a bunch of beets in my CSA box, I didn't hesitate to make this recipe for Roasted Beet Salad.

First, I roasted the beets by wrapping them in foil and putting them in the oven for about an hour and a half. Then I let the beets cool, still in their wrapper, for about a half hour longer.

While the beets cooled, I cooked some sliced almonds in olive oil until they were lightly golden. I took the pan off the heat and let the almonds cool in the oil for a while. Then I took them out with a slotted spoon, put them in a small bowl and seasoned them with a little bit of salt. Usually, when I cook, I'm a clean-up-as-you-go kind of guy, but out of a momentary stroke of laziness, I left the oil in the pan on the stove rather than pouring it down the drain and rinsing the pan. It was a good thing that I didn't, because, even though The Book says nothing at this point in the recipe about reserving the oil, it turns out to be an important component in the salad dressing.

Anyway, while the oil sat in the pan, I whisked together some finely chopped shallot, lemon juce, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt. I added the almond-infused oil, and set the dressing aside.

Next, I peeled the beets. The Book says to "slip skins from beets." No way is it going to be that easy, I thought ... but it was. I turns out that as the roasted beets cool in their foil packet, the steam loosens the skins, and they really do just slip right off. Pretty cool! I sliced the beets, and added the slices to the dressing, tossing to coat. At that point, I did resume my neat-kitchen ways, and rinsed off the cutting board and wiped down the counter to prevent any permanent beet juice stains. Then, I cut a pear into matchsticks and prepared to plate the salad. I arranged the beets on top of a bed of greens (I used some baby spinach that I had in the fridge instead of the baby arugula or mache that The Book calls for). I topped the salad off with the pear matchsticks and the toasted almonds.

I enjoyed this salad. The beets were delicious, the dressing was light and had a really nice flavor. Cooking the almonds in the oil gave it a nice rich nuttiness, and the lemon and shallot were just the right light notes to round it out. The pears and almonds gave the salad a good crunch, and were a nice counterpoint to the soft, silky beets. The only thing I can think of that would have improved this salad would have been a nice bit of soft goat cheese on top.

August 8, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

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