Friday, July 2, 2010

Beets are Beautiful

My friend Shannon and her mom Lyse work magic in the kitchen. We only get together a couple times a year, but there’s always some kind of potluck involved, and they never fail to disappoint. The last time we saw them was over the Easter holiday. None of us are religious, it’s just a time when my brother's kids have time off school, and we’re given a day off to observe a holiday we recognize with food and good friends. This year was spent on their home turf, the beautiful Northern California coast. We got rained out, but we had a wonderful Sunday Brunch.

This week’s beet salad recipe is Lyse’s. I thought it came from Easter brunch, but I don’t see it on the table anywhere. In any event, this is Lyse’s recipe, just for the record.

I love beets. I don’t remember always loving beets, but in the last year or so, I’ve fallen in looove with beets. They’re so unassuming looking. But cut them open, and they come ALIVE. Their vibrant colors, patterns, earthy smell….they’re just a sensory overload.

First I halved and then roasted them. Originally I was going to boil them, because I’d done that before and I knew it was easy to skin them after they’d been boiled. But I also thought that that roasting them might yield more flavor, so I went with that. Skinning them after roasting wasn’t so easy, so I ended up having to use a vegetable peeler. The sink kind of looked like a vegetable blood bath.

See what I mean about sensory overload?

I tried to be all chef-y and cut the beets into uniform pieces. But I think I’m more of an artistic, variable size kind of girl.

In one of my many recipe-browsing nights I learned of a trick to grate soft cheeses like blue cheese or goat cheese – freeze it and use a microplane. Sounded like a great idea.

But I want chunks of cheese, not sprinkles and hints of cheese. So I nixed that and crumbled it.

Well. It’s not like Lyse’s! I like it, but the mint is turning me off for some reason. I know I’ve had this, and I know I liked it. What am I doing wrong? I don’t not like it, but it’s missing something. In any event, it’s still made of beets and goat cheese. How can you really go wrong with that?

Lyse’s Minted Beet Salad with Vanilla

1/4 c walnut, hazelnut, or canola oil
3 T balsamic vinegar (or blueberry or raspberry)
3 T honey
3/4 tsp. vanilla
salt and pepper to taste
5-8 beets baked, peeled, quartered
about 1/2 c finely minced mint leaves
feta or goat cheese

Whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Add beets and toss well. Add mint leaves and toss again. Sprinkle cheese on top.

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