As I was going through my recent blog posts, I realized that over the last couple of months, my focus has been on hearty traditional dishes. I posted my good friend Guy’s Piquant Pulled Pork, a recipe that made it to a few local online publications, followed by ethnic staples like Chicken Khao Soi, Romanian meatballs, and last, but not least, my dear friends Ame and Hanna’s Ethiopian Lentils from the Cooking with Friends series. After so many filling and calorie rich meals I thought it would be a good time to post a lighter dish. I thought of salads, but to be honest, salads aren’t my strong suit. I like them, it’s just that I eat them as a side dish rather than as a meal. Also, since fall has finally arrived in Austin, I was in the mood for something more suitable for colder weather. I opened my recipe notebook and stumbled upon a recipe I developed about a year ago - Roasted Beet Carpaccio.
I LOVE beets. Although as a kid I only ate them pickled, I found later in life that roasted beets are equally delicious. In my mind, beets are totally worth having my kitchen looking like a crime scene and having my hands stained with beet juice. In Romania, pickled beets are very common. In fact, we consider pickled vegetables to be salad. If you happen to be eating in Romania and find something like salata de varza, salata de rosii, salata de castraveti or salata de sfecla on the menu, don’t expect it to be a proper salad in the traditional sense of the word. More likely than not, you’ll end up getting various combinations of cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers and beets, all pickled in vinegar. We eat them with our main dishes (they make a hell of a side dish for schnitzel and mashed potatoes).
What I recently learned about beets is that the greens are edible, too. Up until not long ago, I would discard the greens without thinking twice. I was a fool! I didn’t know how good they were. All those disposed beet greens would’ve made a great side dish. They can be sautéed or just blanched and then dressed. Soooo good! And I’m not one to throw the expression “soooo good” around when it comes to greens. I eat a variety of greens, but I can’t really say that they are all THAT good.
In the spirit of the Romanian definition of salad, I’ll consider this dish a salad as well. It’s perfect for when you want to impress your guests during the colder months. I sometimes serve the beets warm, but even at room temperature or refrigerated they will be tasty. It’s up to you to decide what you like better. If you find the dressing to be too tart for your liking when you taste it on its own, worry not. The sweetness of the beets, the smokiness and pepperiness of the arugula, and the nuttiness of the walnuts all balance out the tartness of the vinaigrette. Try it and tell me what you think. Enjoy!
BEET CARPACCIO WITH CITRUS VINAIGRETTE
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 4-5 beets with greens (about 1 bunch)
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/4 cup goat feta (or goat cheese)
- 1/4 cup roasted walnuts
- 1 orange, peeled and sectioned
- olive oil, for topping
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- sea salt, to taste
- 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
- 2 TBS fresh lemon juice (1 small lemon)
- 3 TBS fresh orange juice (1 small orange)
- 1/2 tsp orange zest
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 TBS honey
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C) degrees.
- Remove the greens from the beets cutting off and discarding the woody stems. Using a brush clean the beets thoroughly, leaving the skin on. Rinse greens and set aside.
- In a bowl, mix beet roots, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss until the beets are evenly coated.
- Wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Place beets on the upper rack of the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes or until they can easily be pierced with the tip of a knife.
- While the beets are roasting in the oven, prepare an ice bath for the beet greans by filling a medium sized bowl with 1 cup ice and 4 cups cold water.
- Fill a medium sized pot halfway with water. Add a tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
- When the water is boiling add the beet greens and submerge them under the boiling water. Cook for no more than 2 minutes.
- Using a sieve or a slotted spoon, remove the greens from the pot and transfer them into the ice bath. This will stop the cooking process and keep the beet greens crisp and colorful.
- Place all the ingredients for the citrus vinaigrette in a jar. Put the lid on and shake well for about 30 seconds. Set aside and shake again before using it.
- When the beets are cooked, remove them from the oven, carefully open the aluminum foil and let them cool down.
- In the meantime, remove the greens from the ice bath and chop them into bite sizes.
- Peel the orange, section it and remove the skins from the slices. Set aside.
- Place arugula on a large serving plate. Sprinkle with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
- When the beets are cold enough to handle, peel them. The skins should slip off easily, but feel free to use a knife for the more stubborn spots.
- Using a mandolin, slice the beets into thin slices (about 2-3mm thin).
- Place beets on the arugula bed. Sprinkle beet greens, feta, walnuts and orange all over the beets. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!
- The time it takes to cook the beets depends on their size. The beets I used were the size of a tennis ball and it took 40 minutes.
- When opening the aluminum foil, be careful not to get burned with the hot stem that built up inside the packets.
- You can serve the beets warm, but be careful not to burn yourself when peeling them.