Summer Plate: Warm Beet Salad
Here is the last of the recipes for my recent late-summer dinner plate. Albeit, it is now officially fall. But I’m a bit slow in posting these days, immersed is many other creative projects. My mind’s constantly going in twenty different directions, concerned at one moment with arranging flowers for a wedding, at another moment with blending herbal teas from my garden harvests, at another with re-designing the perennial plantings in my front yard, and at yet another with knitting up some fun and funky wrist warmers. I’m a woman with too many hobbies, I think.
But one creative passion is always ticking away in the back of my head. Recipe development is an interest and skill that’s been honed over these past several years of food blogging. I now find myself caught up in thought in the middle of my garden while harvesting, deeply considering the merits of roasting versus boiling as well as flavor pairings and contrasting textures. I know that this entire blog is based on the inspiration of freshly harvested produce for its simple and beautiful preparations, but some days I’m still blown away by how rousingly handsome handfuls of fresh vegetables are. Beets are among the most precious jewels in this capacity.
Beets, so rich in vitamins and earthy flavor, are surprisingly versatile in the kitchen. Tuck them into a popular chocolate cake to sneak them by those that might protest the deliciousness of these roots if you will, but I love them best when they are front and center in a simple salad. Beets are just coming back into their prime here in autumn, being sweetened by the chilly nights and approaching frost that cause the plant to put all its sugar reserves into its roots in an attempt to survive the cold months ahead. The beets I used for this salad happen to actually be some of the last I’ve had stored all summer from my spring crop, proof that this vegetable has staying power. Is it any wonder that I have hundreds more planted in my garden currently to put in the cellar for winter dining delights?
Warm Beet Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing is the perfect foray into fall, taking advantage of the rich flavors and warmth of roasting that contrast so pleasingly with the cool and fresh taste of tender lettuce leaves that are also once again at their best in the cooler weather. You’ll not miss the warm weather or tomatoes when you take a bite of this luscious autumnal recipe.
Warm Beet Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing
A Straight from the Farm Original
4 large beets
1 head of garlic
¼ C. orange champagne vinegar
1 T. orange juice
1 T. honey
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
½ C. extra virgin olive oil
3 C. fresh young mixed lettuce
1 C. sorrel
4 oz. herbed goat cheese
*Both the beets and the garlic can be roasted ahead and stored in the fridge for up to two days. The dressing can also be made ahead of time and stored in a sealed jar. Be sure to warm up the beets again before assembling the salad.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish along with an inch of water and ¼ t. of coarse salt. Cover with parchment paper and then foil. Bake until beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45-55 minutes. Let stand to cool before using your hands to slip off the skins.
When you are roasting the beets, also roast the garlic: Using a sharp knife, cut the top half inch off the head of garlic. Set garlic on a sheet of foil and top with a bit of butter and a dash of salt. Draw up edges of foil and create a sealed pouch to enclose the garlic. Bake with the beets until garlic is soft when squeezed, about 45 minutes. Carefully unwrap and let stand to cool.
While the beets and garlic are roasting, gently wash your lettuce and sorrel. Dry thoroughly and tear any large leaves, particularly the sorrel, into small pieces. Place in a large serving bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl or dressing jar, whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, honey, salt, pepper and oil until completely emulsified. Go ahead and set this aside, just remember that you’ll need to add the garlic yet.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, but still warm, slice them in half and then into thin wedges. Scatter over the greens in the serving bowl.
Take the roasted garlic from its foil package and carefully squeeze out the soft innards onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to chop up the roasted garlic as best you can. Add to the dressing and whisk well again. Pour dressing over the salad, gently tossing with your hands or tongs. Crumble the goat cheese over the top and serve immediately while the beets are still warm.