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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Sweet salad will ‘make your mind melt’

So we have another snow day.  I am happy, since our winter prospects were looking bleak until two weeks ago.  I was completely ready for spring to spring, but now I sit here with the snow on the ground, pets and kids snuggled in the couch as we watch the tele, happy that we were awarded another respite in our school week.
This is especially satisfying, because by the time that you read this, it will be March and the sun will be warmer and higher in the sky, so we’ll take a nice snowstorm on this particular day as a gift.
But for now, suffice to say that I needed this snow day.  Yesterday was a long, 15- hour day and now I’m getting ready to head to D.C. to get some work done up there, and that will be a brutal weekend with 16-hour days.  A day off is just what the doctor ordered.  Looking at all of the food that we cooked this week, I settled on writing about this healthy, gorgeous salad that has no many nuances and flavors that it will make your mind melt.  But it’s simple, so don’t fret.
Ironically, as I quip on this mostly healthy dish, I’m watching a “Man vs. Food” marathon and I can’t help but to snicker at the difference between what I’m preparing and writing about and what I’m watching this burly beast eat.
But truth be told, I think I’d rather be elbow deep in a Jucy Lucy Burger or a 2 1/2-pound Dagwood sandwich, but this salad will have to do for now.
Next up on TV was a “Bizarre Foods” run, but after an episode of larvae, pig brains and bull penis broth in Bangkok, it was time to refocus on the beets.  I haven’t watched food shows in about 10 years, because to me it is akin to a doctor coming home and watching shows on foot surgery.
But recently, the kids have been enjoying some food shows, so I have found myself uncharacteristically perusing various segments of food entertainment.  
The one show that I truly enjoyed watching was “Chopped,” in that I love mystery basket competitions.  I like to see what cooks and chefs will do with the ingredients with which they are stranded.  Mystery baskets are an important part of a chef’s arsenal, and I have always enjoyed the adrenaline rush of cooking in them.
But back to the salad, we served this one recently at a dinner and when all of the components came together, it was quite the success.  The sweet notes of the roasted beets and pear were contrasted by the sour of the blue cheese dressing and the acid of the vinegar cut through the dressing like a champ.  
The dish followed a brief period of passed hors d’oeuvres so it was refreshing to eat this after heavier bites, getting the diners ready for the main course: the very purpose of a salad within the meal.
And now the time comes for me to cook dinner for the family and I’m torn between a 2-pound monster meat sandwich and a delicate, dainty little salad.  Mayhap I’ll meet in the middle and something that won’t make our arteries explode while providing at least a little bit of nutrition.  What am I saying?  I’m making a big ol’ meat sandwich.  And then I’ll run … in the snow.
Roasted Beet Salad
Serves 4
2 lb beets, fresh
Salt & Pepper, as needed
Baby arugula
2 c. Pear-fennel salad (recipe follows)
1 c. Blue cheese dressing (recipe follows)
1/2 c. Beet reduction (recipe follows)
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.
Wash the beets, brush with honey and season.
Wrap in foil and bake for about an hour or until they are tender.  Remove and cool.
When cool enough to handle, cut the beets into slices and using a circle cutter cut out uniform circles.  Chill.
Arrange the beets on the plate in a semi-circle.
Place a small pile of arugula nestled in the beet circle and top with some apple-fennel salad.
Top with blue cheese dressing and drizzle with the beet reduction and serve.

Pear-fennel Salad
1 pear, peeled and cored
1 bulb fennel, finely shaved
2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. thyme

Thinly slice the pear and toss all ingredients together, allowing to sit for at least an hour to marry.

Bleu Cheese Dressing
1 c. crème fraiche
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 c. Crumbled strong blue cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Make this dressing a day in advance.
Combine all ingredients and allow to marry.
Chill until ready to use.
Beet Reduction
Quantity will vary
Equal parts of:
Roasted beet scraps
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine and sugar
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and puree with an immersion blender.
Reduce by half and move to a Vitamix blender, pureeing it perfectly smooth
Taste and season. Chill until ready to serve.