No, that’s not a typo. I know my Sonny and Cher songs. Remember how much I loved that Cher workout video in high school? Well, here comes another piece of Lady Sensory high school trivia: when prompted to choose an autobiography to read in tenth grade, I picked Sonny Bono’s book, And the Beat Goes on. I ended up liking it but had originally selected it to irritate the teacher. I was trying to avoid advanced placement English and was establishing quite the habit of picking sub-par novels for book reports. She even called me out on it and suggested I pick better authors after I presented her with my next selection, Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, Less than Zero. What can I say? If I were in tenth grade today, I could be making intelligent book selections like the Fifty Shades trilogy. I digress. Let’s stop talking about English class and get back to the beets.
When people tell me that they hate beets it makes me sad. I feel like they are depriving themselves of such a tasty treat. Most likely, they were exposed to canned beets as children and that is just not the best flavor representation of a beet. I get hella-excited when I can find golden beets or the heirloom beets (white with the appearance of candy-cane stripes) at the market. In my opinion, the best preparation would be to roast them. Roasted beets are like sweet, delicious and earthy jewels that sit atop your salad. Let’s make some, shall we?
Lady Sensory’s Roasted Beet and Asparagus Salad with Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese
This salad requires a lot of preparation but it’s a great way to enjoy seasonal produce. You will need:
2 bunches fresh beets (preferably one bunch of red and one bunch of golden if you can find them)
1 bunch fresh asparagus
4 oz package of goat cheese
1/2-3/4 cup shelled pistachios, crushed (you can also use pecans, walnuts or almonds)
Baby spinach or mesclun (mixed baby field greens)
1/2 cup golden raisins
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Balsamic vinegar & additional olive oil (for salad dressing)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the root and the greens off of each beet and wash thoroughly. Cutting the greens should give you a level surface to stand the beet upright on the cookie sheet. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Place washed beets in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Massage the oil, salt & pepper onto the surface and stand the beets upright on the cookie sheet. Place in the oven and allow to roast from 1 hour to 1.5 hrs until tender, depending on the size of the beets. While the beets are cooking, take the shelled pistachios (or preferred nut) and crush them. Remove the goat cheese from the package and cut into 4 chunks. With damp hands, form the chunks into balls. Roll the balls in the crushed pistachios to form a nice crust around the ball. Place on a small piece of foil. You will be warming the cheese in the oven when the beets are done. Check on your beets – the skin will look dark and slightly puffy when ready. Remove beets from the oven and reduce the heat to around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow beets to rest on cookie sheet until cool enough to handle. This takes anywhere from 15-20 minutes. While you are waiting for the beets to cool, take a medium-sized pot and fill with water and allow to come to a boil on the stove. You will be using this to blanche the asparagus. Remove the foil sheet with beets still on it and place under a cool running faucet and begin to peel the skin from the beets. Yes. It’s messy. Yes. Your hands are turning red. So what? It washes off. Wear plastic gloves if you are that fussy.
The beet skin should peel off pretty easily. Cut the beets into slices and place in a container with a small amount of water and sprinkle very lightly with salt. This way, if you have any leftovers, you can enjoy your beets the next day. When the oven temperature hits 250 degrees, warm the goat cheese on the small piece of foil for about 10-15 minutes. The balls should be removed when they soften and slightly lose their shape (not as round) and the nuts are slightly golden and fragrant. The water should be boiling on the stove, so place washed and trimmed asparagus into the water for approximately 3 minutes or until very bright green. Remove with kitchen tongs and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the asparagus from cooking and keep them a bit crisp. Chop into smaller pieces (about 2 inches) for salad.
On a large plate, arrange greens, sliced beets, asparagus, golden raisins and any stray pistachios. Place two goat cheese balls on top and drizzle with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Get creative with the dressing if you like. I used the Autumn Cinnamon Pear vinegar and Blood Orange oil from F. Oliver’s, a local specialty store for oil and vinegar. This will make enough to serve two. You can share with a vertically challenged man while you sing, “I Got You Babe,” or you can simply hoard the tasty beet salad all to yourself while you read a trashy novel. It’s your choice. This is a judgment-free zone.