Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with watercress, oranges, and pine nuts
The staff at Alchemy sighed collectively in sadness when the last shipment of heirloom tomatoes for the season arrived last Fall. What could I put on the menu for the Winter to rival the freshness, vibrancy, and flavor of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil? The answer is found in beets, both red and gold varieties, roasted rather than steamed or boiled to concentrate their natural sweetness, topped with tangy melted goat cheese and fresh orange. This salad features the produce of Winter. The colors and flavors will be sure to liven up any holiday party with an unexpectedly wonderful melding of seasonal ingredients. This dish can be plated as a first course for a fancy holiday meal or prepared on a larger platter as part of a holiday potluck or informal party.
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- 2 large red beets and 2 large golden beets
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 T. white wine vinegar
- 1/2 c. water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 lb. Fresh goat cheese (Chevre)
- 2 oranges
- 1 bunch watercress, cleaned and large stems removed
- 1 T. toasted pine nuts
- balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- more salt and pepper to taste
- Crusty bread
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim the beets of their roots and stems. In a bowl, whisk together the first measure of olive oil, vinegar, water, salt, and pepper. Add the beets and coat with the marinade. Make two packets of aluminum foil. Put the red beets in one packet and crimp the top to create a closed chamber. Pour half of the marinade into the packet as well. Place the packet on a sheet pan. Repeat with the golden beets. Roast in the oven for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, peel and section the oranges. When a knife can be easily inserted into the beets, remove them and turn the oven up to broil. Let the beets cool until you can handle them. With a paring knife, cut off both ends, and then peel the beets. Slice thickly. Lay the slices on a greased sheet pan, then top with little dabs of goat cheese. Place the sheet pan back in the oven and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until the goat cheese is melted and bubbly. Arrange slices of beets on 4 serving plates, alternating slices of red and gold. Place a mound of watercress in the middle of the beets. Sprinkle the plate with orange segments, pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lay a few slices of fresh or toasted crusty bread on the side of each plate and serve.
- Beverage Suggestion: A Pinot Noir, with its higher acidity and low tannins, pairs well with the acidity of the salad while providing enough flavor to stand up to the goat cheese. A spicy Belgian Saison Ale would also work beautifully.