Beet and goat cheese salad
I was at the bookstore yet again the other day going through, what else, the cookbook section. There are so many new cookbooks and they are beautiful and tempting. One book that caught my eye and came home with me had an unusual title: Faking It: how to cook delicious food without really trying, by Valli Little. Valli was born into a restauranteur-family in the UK and had her formal chef training at Le London Cordon Bleu in London. She then had a distinguished career in Australia and the UK, including being the food director of ABC magazine Delicious and publishing several cookbooks.. The recipes in Faking It are crafted using a few ready made ingredients alongside fresh ones to help busy cooks prepare good food without the extra pressure of having to make absolutely everything from scratch.
One dish that caught my eye was a lovely looking beet and goat cheese salad. I often have beet salads at restaurants and love how beautifully professional chefs plate this colourful vegetable, a task not easily duplicated at home. This presentation seemed entirely doable and I thought I’d make it and share it with you. One thing: in the book Valli uses canned beet, I guess to support the “faking it” title. I have no problem with shortcuts but to be honest, canned beets do not appeal to me. Roasted beets have much more flavour so I bought some larger beets, roasted them in the oven and recreated the salad using them. However, in your kitchen, suit yourself. The recipe is adapted from the book.
2 large beets, any colour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons best quality balsamic vinegar
1 cylinder goat cheese, room temperature (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons chives, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
A pinch of salt
2 tabespoons honey, warmed to a drizzling consistency
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
A handful of micro greens or another small leaves, or the tops of pea shoots.
Clean the beets, wrap in a foil adding a little water to each package and roast in 400F oven until the beets are cooked through. you can insert a thin sharp knife into the beets to check if they are done.
When done remove the beets from the oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle slice off the top and bottom and remove the skin.
Slice the beets into rounds, about 1/3 inch thick. If you want perfect slices you can trim them using a round cookie cutter to get perfect edges, I didn’t do it this time but will next time. Place beet slices in a shallow bowl and drizzle the olive oil and balsamic over, distributing it so all the beets are touched by the dressing. Cover and leave to marinate an hour on the counter or overnight in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature before proceeding.
Place cheese in a small dish and mash with a fork. Add the milk, nuts, chives and salt and mix until combined. If not using immediately refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before proceeding.
Drizzle a few thin lines of honey over the plate, reserving the rest for drizzling over the top.
Use about 3 slices of beets per serving. Wipe each slice gently with paper towel so the juices don’t run over the cheese.
Place one beet slice on the plate and pipe or spoon the goat cheese on top in the center .
Press the second beet slice over the cheese pushing the cheese to the edges.
Repeat with more cheese and top with the third slice.
Drizzle the oil and balsamic dressing around the plate, garnish with walnuts and micro-greens.
Drizzle additional honey over (optional).
Other beet salads you may like: