Beets have come a long way in the last five years. And I dig that. You can find beet salad on almost every outstanding restaurant’s menu these days. Whether you live in Cleveland or Corpus Christi, beets are no longer shunned, but featured prominently and proudly in soups, salads and entrees. And even desserts.
Perhaps you remember the beet salad I made in 2009 that David just flipped over? It was a Paula Disbrowe recipe. Something I never told you was that we were recently at a party in Austin with Paula and her husband, David Norman, head baker of the city’s premier bakery and beer garden, Easy Tiger.
The bread he makes has all of the qualities you want in a European bread–crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside. The kind of bread that is simply sublime. The kind of bread some bakers work decades to make this good.
David was part of the pig fest early last fall at our friend and fellow market member, Loncito Cartwright’s, ranch. Even though Paula was unable to attend the three-day food fest, she made sure to be a part of the subsequent pig roast that was held in Dripping Springs just before Thanksgiving.
We met each other in the kitchen. I mean, where else do the people in the know hang out at a party? She was putting her pies out when I regaled her with the story of how her beet salad in Grady Spear’s cookbook, The Texas Cowboy Kitchen, won my David’s heart and made him a “beet believer.”
She smiled so big, looked down and I swear she was blushing. She acted as if I was the first person to ever tell her how one of her recipes changed their life. Really. I was completely taken aback at her humble response.Ever since that touching conversation, I think of Paula whenever I make beet salad, which is quite often. Using her recipe as the basis, I have just added a few twists to make it my own and to make something a bit different for a change.
Instead of the celery, I added the young and tender beet green leaves for color and nutrients and then for some crunch, a generous sprinkling of pistachios. The goat cheese and dressing remain untouched as they are perfect just the way they are.
This is the dish I took with me to my Les Dames d’Escoffier International fall event planning meeting last week. A group of women in the culinary industry, they also appreciated the rich colors, textures and vivid flavors of this beet salad that is a real standout.
Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Beet Greens and Pistachios
- 1 bunch beets, about 4, red or golden, roasted, peeled and sliced into 1/4" rounds
- High quality extra virgin olive oil
- A handful of young and tender beet greens washed and rinsed, for garnish
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1/3 cup pistachios
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash the beets, trim the ends and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Bake for about an hour, or until tender. After they are cooked, let them cool a bit and then remove the skins. Set the beets aside and allow to cool completely before slicing.
For the dressing, whisk the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar together. Add the salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Whisk the olive oil in until it is emulsified and thick and gorgeous. Set aside.
Slice the beets. To plate the salad, place the sliced beets on a large platter. Drizzle with a bit of super high quality olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Crumble the goat cheese on top of the beets.
Using a knife, carefully chiffonade the beet greens and then sprinkle them on top of the beets and goat cheese--letting the greens fall wherever they might.
Now generously sprinkle the pistachios on top.
Lightly spoon some of the dressing over the salad and serve immediately, allowing people to add more dressing to their plates, if needed.