OK.... Wait a Minute, Pleeeease! Before you click back to your own blog or over to another one, please hear me out about this wonderful, healthy, delicious vegetable that might just change the way you look at root vegetables from now on. Pretty please???
Phew! Thank you for sticking around and Welcome! to the second installment of Seasonal Food Friday! This week our featured food is Spring Beets! Now, don't turn up those noses. If you haven't tasted (and probably spit out in your napkin) a beet since you were a wee nipper and your mom or grandmom plopped a pile of tasteless, canned, purple discs with juice that ran into your freshly buttered mashed potatoes onto your plate, then you haven't tasted a lush, earthy, richly meaty roasted beet...
Especially not one of these curious cultivars as part of a beautiful salad full of hearty leafy greens, topped with crumbles of creamy Roquefort and crunchy Candied Pecans, drizzled with a sweet and tangy dressing laced with Honey and a touch of Cinnamon. And, Spring Beets are smaller and sweeter and more tender than their Fall or Winter counterparts. Are you at least a little bit interested yet?
OK, So beets are good for you. Haven't we learned as adults that good for you food can actually be really good food? These beauties come in several varieties that I won't go into now, but if you'd like to learn more about the healthy nutrients they provide and the products that are made from beets, please click here. For now, I'll move on to the main event. The recipe! It's really not difficult and it makes a fantastic first or salad course that is sure to impress even the most discerning dinner guest.
Roasted Beet, Roquefort and Spiced Pecan Salad
- 4 -6 Cups Mixed Leafy Greens (Romaine, Arugula, Red Leaf, Butter/Boston Bibb, Mesculin etc.)
- 10 oz Roquefort Cheese
- Roasted Beets (recipe follows)
- Spiced Pecans (recipe follows)
- Orange Honey Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Wash your Greens and dry them in a spinner or with paper towels. Tear them into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large shallow bowl. (kind of like the big bowl from a "pasta set") Cut the Roasted Beets into chunks about 1 & 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and arrange them on top of Greens. Crumble the Roquefort and sprinkle the Pecans liberally over the salad. Dress with the Orange Honey Vinaigrette just before serving, or pass it separately at the table. You can also assemble the salad ingredients on individual salad plates if you prefer. The ingredients that I'm giving you the prep for below can all be prepared ahead of time, so come party night you can just whip up your salad and enjoy it!
- 4 - 6 Assorted *Whole Beets (depending on size)
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Cracked Pepper
*When buying fresh beets, they should be heavy for their size and very firm. They're going to be a bit dirty, even from the grocery store. Probably more so from the Farmer's Market. (they are a root, after all!) Each variety has a slightly different depth of flavor. I've found the Golden variety to be milder, but I love them all. I always use a mix. Cooking time will vary depending on size and the number of beets in the pan. Test them after each 20 (approx) minutes of roasting.
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut any stems/leaves off each Beet, leaving about 2 or 3 inches of the stem for easier handling later. (The greens are terrific in soups, stews or cooked as you would collard greens) Trim off any straggling roots from the bottoms. Rinse Beets under cold running water, using a soft brush to "scrub" them a bit if needed. Do not peel them at this point. With the tip of a sharp knife, pierce them once or twice as you would a baked potato. Place the Beets (whole) in a large roasting pan lined with heavy duty foil. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of the Olive Oil and sprinkle on Salt and Pepper liberally. Using a large spoon or your hands, toss them so they're all well coated with the oil and seasonings. Roast them, uncovered for anywhere from 30 - 50 minutes (varies, as explained above) or until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife.
After the beets have been removed from the oven and have cooled enough to be handled without discomfort, take each beet by the stem end with a paper towel in your hand to prevent slipping and use a clean paper towel to "rub" the skins off. They should come off quite easily this way. Beets DO STAIN skin, clothes, some counter-tops... pretty much anything porous. So be mindful of this when working with them. I always wear food safe vinyl or latex gloves. You can now cut them up for your salad and set them aside til ready to use them.
Spiced (Candied) Pecans
- 16oz Pecan Halves (some pieces are fine)
- 2 Egg Whites, lightly beaten with,
- 1 Tbls Water
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the water and toss in the Pecan Halves. Stir them gently so they are well coated and moistened. In a separate bowl mix together the Sugar, Salt, Cloves, Nutmeg and Cinnamon. Pour this mixture over the Pecans and toss lightly but thoroughly so that all pieces are coated with the spice mix.
Spread them out on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. After removing them from the oven, allow them to cool completely and store them in an airtight container until ready to use. They can be made up to a week ahead. (If you do, you might want to hide them from your hubby and kids.... Or yourself !!)
Now, last, but definitely not least... The crowning glory; The dressing!
Orange Honey Vinaigrette
- 4 Tbls Cider Vinegar
- 4 Tbls Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
- 1 Heaping Tbls Honey (orange blossom honey would be great if you have it)
- 2 Tbls Light Vegetable or Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Shallot, minced
- 1 Tsp Honey Dijon or Dijon Mustard (to help emulsify the dressing)
- 1/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and whisk, shake in a jar or blend in a processor. Store in a tightly covered container in the fridge for up to one week.
I know it seems like a lot of steps, especially for busy working folk. But, I really hope you give this one a try. I think it will change the way you think of Beets from now on. Of course, they can also be served on their own as a side dish or even pickled, but let's not get ahead of ourselves... LOL We'll just start here and see what happens.
I'm linking up today with: