Sunday, November 25, 2012

Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio Vinaigrette

The Purple Pig made me a beet believer. When I wrote about my recent trip to Chicago (here), I mentioned that one of our stops was to this splendid destination spot for lunch on Monday. The first dish we tried from the antipasti menu was Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio Vinaigrette. Not a particularly big fan of beets, it was a little unusual that I would want that, as opposed to some of the other dishes, but that was the one, alas. I was in the mood. And even after eating Chorizo-Stuffed Olives and Chicken Thigh Kabobs with Smashed Fried Potatoes and Tzatziki (I know, right?), it was the beets that stuck with me.

The other day at the grocery store I craved it so badly that I bought a bunch of beets for the first time in my life, with no idea of how to actually go about preparing it. Turns out, when I got home and did a little internet searching, the recipe is wide-spread by other Purple Pig fans. And it was so easy. So I've decided to share it; I made it as an appetizer for a big belated Thanksgiving meal that my family had today. With serious help from this eHow video, it's surprisingly easy to make -- the only annoying part is peeling the beets, of course. For how much effort one really has to put into it (not much), the result is amaaaazing. Best in small quantities, as an appetizer, and/or as The Purple Pig serves it, like tapas.

Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio Vinaigrette

2-3 medium-sized beets
kosher salt to coat the bottom of a pan 1/4 inch
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
4 or 5 oz. (1 package) of unflavored goat cheese (creamier is easier, such as Chavrie)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
pinch salt and pepper

For the beets: Scrub the beets clean and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat the bottom of a bread pan or 8x8" baking dish (depending on how many beets you use) with kosher salt to about 1/4" depth. Place beets in the pan. Cover with tin foil and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 45-60 minutes or until tender and easily stabbed with a fork. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool slightly, then peel the beets. Dice into 1/2x1/2" cubes and put into a bowl. Allow the beets to cool to room temperature or put into the refrigerator to cool. Best served slightly cooled, but not cold.

For the whipped goat cheese: In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the goat cheese until it begins to get creamy. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and blend well.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar and the pinches of salt and pepper. Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk until it is blended well and takes on a creamier consistency.

Pour the vinaigrette over the beets and toss gently. To serve, place as many beets as desired into a small serving bowl (1/2 cup or so is nice to start), topped with a dollop of whipped goat cheese, and sprinkle with pistachios. Serves about 4-6 as a starter. 

Choppin' 'stachios.

The vinaigrette whisks up to a really lovely consistency and complements
the sweetness that the salt-roasting brings out in the beets.

Beets ready to be peeled.

Whipped up goat cheese.

It's a guilty pleasure to share my entire plate! The beets are in the small bowl in the upper
right corner, and the plate itself consists of mashed parsnips, pecan-topped baked sweet
potatoes with sour cream, turkey, marshmallow fruit salad, green beans, and corn pudding.

Et voila!

I hope everyone had a really lovely holiday weekend; it's back to the grind tomorrow!

Update 06/11/13: Check out my newest blog, Artsy Abroad, and the latest simplified variation of this recipe with a few different (better) photos.


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