One of the simple pleasures in life for me is picking beets
out of the garden. This amazing vegetable sums up the word ‘summer break’ to me
and their taste is nothing short of sublime when prepared correctly.
Our little farm in the backyard has seen better days but
these beauties grew like champs. It was a nice surprise and we will not look a
gift horse in the mouth. As anyone knows who has grown in their garden, plants
and vegetation come and go as they please, not necessarily following any
specific rules as to whether they will obey your command to grow and flourish.
In harvesting the few vegetables that we grow, we love beets
the most. When they are fresh from the ground, they have a sweet and earthy
taste after cooked and we know that the nutritional value is second to only a
handful of powerhouse provisions.
We need to dig deeper than the carb/fat/protein profile when
looking at the health benefits of beets.
When we eat the beets, utilizing the greens in the arugula blend
(optional), we are eating an array of antioxidants that have been shown to help
us in our daily battle against the bad things out to get us and our
bodies. As I am no NIH employee, I
will let you do your own research on this matter.
All I know is that I can’t wait to eat a roasted beet salad
— one of my favorite combinations of beets, bitter greens, sweet dressing and a
Sadly, I must recognize that the summer is quickly
fading. The days are a touch
shorter and all of a sudden we are waking up to mornings in the 60s.
At least we have the pleasure of a small harvest before the
end of it all. And then it’s back to school. And I know that the beet salad that I am eating as I write
will help me weather any storm that may come my way. Thank you, simple
Roasted Beet Salad
6 fresh beets,
Olive oil, as
Salt and pepper,
Baby arugula, as
1 cup candied nuts
1/2 cup gorgonzola
1/2 cup sweet sherry
vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/2 cup pickled
onions (recipe follows)
Toss beets, skin-on, in a touch of olive oil and then season
liberally with salt and pepper.
Wrap loosely in aluminum foil and, in a 400°F oven, roast
until a knife passes through easily, approximately 45 minutes to an hour and a
quarter, depending on your oven.
Let beets cool in the foil and then peel them. I recommend
wearing gloves for this since fresh beets will stain everyone and everything
within 30 feet.
When you are ready to assemble the salad, toss the arugula
in a small amount of dressing and put the beets on the plate as the base.
Add the gorgonzola, nuts and onions and then top off with
shingled slices of beets
Makes 2 cups
2 cups walnuts, whole
Splash of water
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
The water is key here. It is important to use only enough
water to dissolve the confectioner’s sugar and coat the walnuts.
Toss the ingredients together and place on a sheet pan
sprayed with pan coating.
Bake for 5 minutes at 350°F and remove from oven.
Toss well with a spatula and place back in oven.
Bake for 4 minute intervals, removing to toss, until nuts
are darkened. They will still be soft. They will not crisp up until they are
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon
3 tablespoons sugar
6 fresh basil leaves
1 roasted garlic
1 1/4 cups grapeseed
Salt and pepper, as
Combine everything up to, but not including, the oil in a
tall container. A small diameter works best if you are using an immersion
Stick your immersion blender (stick blender) in the mixture
and blend well.
With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the oil until
the dressing has emulsified.
Season to taste.
Yields about 2 cups
1 cup red vinegar
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 cup sugar
1 large red onion
Salt and pepper to
Julienne the onion and place in a sieve. Run cold water over
the onion as this will remove some of the gases that make the onion so
Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan and
Put the onions in a bowl and pour the hot pickling goo on
Place in the refrigerator, uncovered until cool. Cover and
let sit for at least 4 hours before using. These will last for up to 7 days.
— Paul G. Suplee is a
certified executive chef and ProChef certified Level-3. He is a writer and
culinary instructor. Find his ePortfolio at www.heartofakitchen.com.