Posts tagged beets

Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, Radishes, and Kumquat Vinaigrette

Holiday dinners around our house are often an expression of excess, as with most people.  For the past few years, our family has adopted a new tradition, where we cook the foods of another country for our Christmas dinner.  Sometimes it is foods they eat on Christmas, or other festival/ceremonial foods, or just something that sounds delicious.  In the past, we’ve done Spain (an assortment of tapas and a roasted leg of lamb), Portugal (Portuguese Fisherman [a dish of spicy sausage, onions, and peppers], and condensed-milk-free flan), Switzerland (traditional fondue), etc.

This year, exhausted from months of planning and executing my wedding, we opted for something a little bit more American-traditional.  No specific menu in mind, just good, solid, Fall-season celebration foods.  Not wanting to go overboard on fat and calories, I thought a good salad was in order.  Now, I should specify, I almost never really eat salad anymore.  I have generally limited myself to Caesar salad, chinese chicken salad, and any of a variety of chunkier vegetable salads, such as panzanella (Italian bread and tomato) or the like.  Then I discovered my love of beets, especially roasted beets, and my love of goat cheese, and dear goodness, my love of them together.  Amazing.  I know they do well in salad.  I just needed to find the right accompaniments.

A small bin of fresh kumquats at the grocery store pretty much sealed the deal for me.  I brought them home without an idea of what I would do with them (and still haven’t used most of them, so ideas are welcome), and finally pulverized them into a delicious, creamy vinaigrette for this salad.  All in all, I really thought it was pretty well-balanced.  If you like nuts in your salad, I could see a good walnut or almond being put to use here.  Other roasted and cooled vegetables might also be a good match – carrots, asparagus, etc.

Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, Radishes, and Kumquat Vinaigrette (10 first-course servings)

Ingredients:

For Kumquat Vinaigrette:

  • 10 kumquats, quartered and seeded
  • 6 oz. rice vinegar
  • spoonful of sugar (yes, really, I didn’t measure), or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 4 – 6 oz. olive oil, or to desired texture

For Roasted Beets:

  • 4 medium beets, each scrubbed under running water (no need to peel), and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For Salad:

  • 16 oz. baby spinach leaves
  • bunch of radishes, thinly sliced
  • 8-16 oz. soft goat cheese (or other cheese of your liking)

Directions:

To Make Roasted Beets:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Take washed beet wedges and toss in a large bowl with olive oil and salt.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet, and cover with foil.
  4. Roast about 30 minutes, then remove foil and roast another 15-30 or until beets can be pierced easily with a fork.

To Make Kumquat Vinagrette:

  1. Blend kumquats and rice vinegar in a food processor, blender, or a cup with an immersion blender, until thoroughly combined.  While the blender is running, add in as much olive oil as you desire for your preferred dressing consistency, somewhere between a half cup and a cup.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar.

To Assemble the Salad:

  1. Toss spinach leaves with vinaigrette until they are coated evenly.  Divide among salad bowls.
  2. Top each serving with 2-4 beet wedges, some of the radish slices, and about an ounce of the goat cheese, crumbled.

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Grilled Beets

Grilled Beets (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium or 8 baby beets
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • herbs, if desired
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Peel and slice beets.
  2. Brush beet slices on both sides with canola oil and sprinkle generously with herbs, salt, and pepper.
  3. Grill 5-8 minutes on both sides, or until cooked through.

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Beet Risotto

Ruby red, meltingly tender, and just a little earthy.  That would be this beet risotto that I made for dinner on Tuesday night for J, my mom, and my kid brother.  J and I both agreed it could have used a little something extra – J suggested chicken, but personally, I think goat cheese would have been fantastic.  Tangy, and complementarily earthy.  Boy, I am just all about the adverbs today…

If you are lucky enough to have access to beets by the bunch with their greens attached, you won’t have to buy any separate leafy greens to put into your dish.  Otherwise, the ingredient list is relatively short, mostly ingredients common to every risotto: broth, Arborio rice, wine, and Parmesan cheese.

Beet Risotto (serves 4-5)

Recipe adapted from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison – I highly recommend this cookbook for anyone who wants to eat vegetarian, but especially for those who want to learn all about vegetables.  A huge section of this cookbook deals with all kinds of vegetables – how to buy them, how to prepare them, and several recipes for each type.

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 c. vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 2-3 medium beets, peeled and grated (I used 6 baby red beets and 2 baby golden beets)
  • 2-3 c. greens, finely chopped (beet, chard, kale, spinach, etc. – I used 2 bunches baby beet greens and 1 bunch rainbow chard, stems removed)
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan (or more to taste)
  • 2 oz. soft goat cheese (or more to taste; trust me!)

Directions:

  1. Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan and keep covered, and simmering.
  2. Heat the butter or olive oil in a wide saute pan.  Add the onion, and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until soft and translucent.  Add rice, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Add wine, and simmer until it’s absorbed.  Stir in grated beets and chard or kale.  Add 2 c. stock, cover, and simmer until stock is absorbed.
  4. Add the stock in 1/2-cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition has been absorbed, before adding the next.  Check regularly for texture of the rice.  When you have one or two additions of stock remaining (rice should be just slightly chewy), add beet greens or spinach along with the next addition of stock.
  5. When rice is cooked to desired consistency, soft (or slightly chewy) and creamy, taste for seasoning (salt and pepper), then add lemon zest and juice, as well as Parmesan cheese.  Check seasoning again, and serve with additional Parmesan.
  6. For an extra kick, top each serving with some crumbled goat cheese.

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