In honor of election day, I thought I would present a recipe for the one ingredient that might be more divisive and polarizing than politics: beets. There are no undecideds when it comes to this earthy, root vegetable. You either love them or abhor them and those that recoil at the mere mention of this jeweled vegetable have all sorts of techniques for not eating them.
I’ve seen beets be carefully hidden under lettuce leaves, meticulously picked out of vegetable medleys, and scooted, neurotically, back and forth until the plate and its offending contents are cleared. Think I’m exaggerating? Serve beets at your next dinner party and watch half your guests regress back to their 7-year old selves.
I count myself as a lover of beets. I adore their texture, their distinct taste, and the way they pair with tangy goat cheese or a pungent blue. My favorite thing about beets though would have to be their color. I challenge you to find a more spectacular looking vegetable. A sprinkling of beets over a salad or a few tossed into roasted vegetables makes a gorgeous presentation.
This salad makes a spectacular first course. A simple vinaigrette accents peppery arugula and roasted baby beets in a variety of colors steal the show. Regular beets can be substituted for baby beets, but keep in mind that the larger the beet, the longer the cooking time. I also find that smaller beets have a sweeter taste than their “adult” counterparts. I’ve often made this salad and served it with a wedge of blue cheese, but a recent dinner at Aria inspired me to add the goat cheese and garlic chips. It’s a fine addition and worth the extra trouble of browning the garlic. Happy cooking!
Jeweled Beet, Goat Cheese, & Arugula Salad – Printer Friendly Recipe
1 lb small baby beets in various colors, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons Sherry or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cups arugula, washed
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil, enclosing them completely, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Peel and slice the beets into small wedges (when working with beets you should wear gloves to avoid staining your hands red).
Heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the sliced garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy. Remove the garlic using a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
Whisk the sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, and sugar in a small bowl. Slowly pour in the garlic-infused olive oil whisking constantly. Add the arugula to a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour ½ of the dressing over the greens and toss to coat. Add more dressing if needed. Sprinkle the salad with the beets, browned garlic cloves, and the goat cheese. Serve immediately.