give me a beet…

Give me a beet, and I will give you my heart.  I have a new found passion for this stunning vegetable.  The beet I have uncovered in my early forties is quite different from what I remember growing up, when my mom would heat them straight from the can.  No, these beets are amazing, beautiful, earthy, and delicious.  Red, yellow, baby, or striped.  I will try any.  I’m not quite certain how nature achieves such magnificent colors, and the beet is just one shining example.  Recently when I boiled some beets in their skins, I reserved the water and cooked pasta in it the next day.  My kids devoured it and wondered why it was pink pasta, and I am still amazed at the fun to be discovered in the kitchen.

So I decided I wanted to share a simple creation I have made for a warm beet & chevre salad with pickled sweet onion, a fabulous side dish as spring fades into summer.  Not to mention, it is super healthy and light!  Even the roasting part is quite easy, so if you have never done it don’t be afraid, give it a shot.  Try something new, give yourself a beet, and open your mind and your kitchen to exploring all the local wonders that are out there this season.

To roast beets:

Wash beets well, real well of dirt, and trim beets of greens just above where the root meets the greens.  Place on sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, lightly drizzle with oil, then wrap into a closed package.  Place on a cookie sheet in a preheated 375 oven.  Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the beet.  When pierced with a fork or knife they should be tender through out.  Let cool about ten minutes until easy to handle, and peel skins from each beet by gently rubbing until loose.  I like to slice them at this point so they are ready to use, just about 1/4 inch slice, unless I am preparing them for the following recipe.  In that case, leave whole and cover in the foil to keep warm, and slice just before assembly.  Roast some extra’s, they are great chilled and used later in salads and other recipes.  (Your fingers will be pink!)

Warm Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pickled Onion & Mint

  • Half of a sweet onion, red onion, or one whole shallot
  • Red wine vinegar, about 1/4 – 1/2 cup
  • 4-6 medium sized beets, roasted, peeled, and sliced
  • small log (5 oz) of goat cheese-you won’t use it all (but crumbling it yourself is better than bought crumbles, trust me)
  • enough good quality olive oil to drizzle generously
  • mint sprigs or fresh herbs for garnish & chiffonade (sounds fancy but it’s really just thinly sliced strips of mint)
  1. While beets are roasting,  thinly slice, or dice if you prefer, half of a sweet onion, red onion, or shallot to your liking.  Key word…thinly, as thin as you can without losing your finger tip!  Place in small bowl and “almost cover” with red wine vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside, stir occasionally.  *(leftover pickled onions are great on taco’s, salads, sandwiches and more…get creative!)
  2. When ready to serve, have all ingredients ready and set out.  Arrange the still warm beet rounds in a stack, about 3-4 per serving depending on thickness of slice, with one small crumble of goat cheese between each layer.  *(Or, if beets are prepared in advance, heat in a shallow dish to re-heat, 350 for a few minutes until completely warm through.)
  3. While beets are hot, sprinkle generously with crumbled goat cheese so the beet in turn warms the cheese, it is important that beets are warm when you crumble cheese over them.  Don’t worry if the beets aren’t hot once served, if the goat cheese goes on while warm and gets a little melty, then that is all the magic you’ll need!
  4. Top each stack with one teaspoon of pickled onion if diced, or scatter sliced onions over top, drizzle with nice olive oil.  Garnish with mint chiffonade and sprigs on the side, and serve.  Serves about 4, easily doubled!

Simple, see?  Paired with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc, nicely grilled herb marinated chicken, and a simple cast iron hot potato salad- restaurant quality in your own home, but better.

I hope you enjoy this recipe… and the best of food and life throughout all the seasons!

 

 

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disconnected…

honeysuckle

It has been entirely too long since I have written, and I miss it.  Writing has become a part of my life, and the connection I feel through words is huge.  The past month has flown by and suddenly I am here today, realizing how long it has been since I last put my thoughts to paper.  I have been inspired countless times by numerous things, and the number of blogs I have written in my mind is vast, just never put down.  You see, somehow spring break turned into Easter, and here I am in May preparing for the end of the school year and summer.  It has been a gorgeous Spring, just what it should be…cool mornings with warm afternoons, April showers that bring May flowers.  And jam packed with things to do.  Like you, juggling a schedule of work, volunteering, kids and more gets hectic at times, and the thought of lazy summer days is a welcome one.  Our schedules are full and we are plugged in all the time.  Summer seems to bring a break from this, and hope that 24/7 will become 24/6.  It’s funny, we are so connected in every way, that sometimes doesn’t it seem like we are disconnected?

This morning as I reached for my thoughts, I decided to enjoy this one true morning off and go for a long walk though Graylyn and Reynolda.  It was stunning.  The contrasting shades of Spring greens exploded everywhere, fresh cut grass and fields of blooms painted a picture that can’t be duplicated.  (Nature is one serious interior designer!)  As I was walking through the big field at Reynolda, the most amazing scent filled the air.  I literally stopped and then retraced my steps to get closer.  Fragrant blooms buzzed with honey bees darting in and out.  I stopped, and for the first time in too long, picked a honeysuckle blossom and tasted that sweet nectar.  Suddenly, I felt reconnected.

Simple things often seem to recharge us the most, and make us feel connected instead of disconnected.  A phone call in place of a text, a glimpse of the first long awaited flower bloom, the taste and smell of honeysuckle.

It’s there, go do it.  Enjoy the best of food and life.