My lovely cousin gave me Mario Batali’s latest (I think) cookbook – America: Farm to Table
– for my birthday this year. I am an avid collector of cookbooks, and love to page through them and drool over all the pretty pictures. She knows me well.
This particular cookbook focuses on farmers and their products, and is full of recipes celebrating those products, including an entire chapter on oysters. I started simple, as I had some beets from my CSA box (how appropriate, am I right?) that I needed to use, so I selected the Beet Salad with Baby Spinach and Goat Cheese for my inaugural dish.
First off, the beets. They pretty much went whole into the oven to roast with some olive oil. Once roasted, you rub the skin off (HOT HOT HOT) and then cut them into chunks, resulting in a very beautiful and semi-murderous scene.
The vinaigrette is the brilliance of this recipe – beet goat cheese spinach salad is nothing new, so what you put on it matters. It isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it has a good balance and nice tang.
I served the beet salad as a main course one weeknight, with a “side” of pecan-crusted fish, recipe courtesy of A Beautiful Mess. It was basic, but tasty, and a good way to use all those beets. The cookbook definitely has some more unique recipes, so I’ll have to give one of those a try and report back.
Beet Salad with Baby Spinach and Goat Cheese
I found this to be a solid beet salad with a good vinaigrette, and being so simple, something you could probably add to your repertoire of off-the-cuff dishes after making once. Needless to say, I did not use nearly fancy enough goat cheese, but I felt having local beets won me at least a few points towards the whole “farm-to-table” thing.
Yield: 6 Servings
2 large bunches beets, with greens
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups baby spinach, washed and spun dry
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette
1 pinch Kosher salt
8 oz crumbly goat cheese, such as Coach Farm of La Tur
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut off the beet greens, leaving 1/2 inch of the stem on each, and reserve them for ravioli filling or soups. Scrub the beets, toss them with the olive oil, and spread them in a baking pan. Roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then rub off the skins under running water and slice the stems into 1⁄8-inch pieces.
Cut the beets into 1/2-inch chunks and place them in a large bowl with the stem pieces. Add the spinach and toss with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Season with salt.
Divide the salad among six plates, crumble some of the goat cheese over each salad, and serve.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Yield: 1 Cup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp ice water
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch kosher salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
Whisk the vinegar, water, mustard, and olive oil together in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. The vinaigrette can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.