beets and goat cheese

Beets have never been a favorite veggie of anyone we know. They are a kind of in-your-face tuber-like plant product with strong taste and serious color issues that set it apart. Americans have weird Thanksgiving dish associations with beets where only the color is a dead giveaway of the source of the food ingredient. Russians make borsch soup out of them, delicious by the way, and again the color is unmistakable. No other food item comes close to that color. Sometimes they are found cooked and sliced up in salad bars. Apparently they are really healthy for us, which is the reason bob has acquired a taste for them at the salad bar in recent years by always adding a few into the mix when available. Just in time for the trendy beet recipes that started impinging on our consciousness in 2005. Ani never took the healthy salad addition advice from bob, but maybe the food network opened her mind enough to risk trying a trendy beet dish in a restaurant situation. Or maybe she trusted her sister who had already been converted and produced some plain cooked beets at a family dinner, and they turned out pretty tasty. Then a sophisticated beet dish turned up on the menu at a local relatively new but very positively reviewed restaurant:  cooked beets with an orange vinaigrette topped with goat cheese finished in the oven with a little form to keep each portion vertical and elegant.

So Trader Joe's found a ready to use beet product and made an exception to offer it with its brand name instead of the generic Trader Joe label: steamed and peeled baby red beets (is there any other color?). We snatched it up. But a few nights passed before the occasion presented itself to try a knock off of the restaurant dish. Bob is home exercising on the Tony Little gazelle (20 minutes only, bob is a wimp these days) when traffic reporting in his NPR ear-feed alerts him to massive gridlock on all local roads because of a tractor trailer accident on I-76 blocking totally the city-bound traffic, causing gridlock spillover to all the local roads, promising to make ani's commute home a bit lengthy, so a ready dinner would be in order upon her arrival. How thoughtful, bob.

A little salad to fill out the veggie quota and some chicken tenders done up in a way inspired by Rachel Ray's previous night's show for the major protein item (sorry, chickens) and the deed is done. As for the beet dish, no oranges around, so lemon will have to do. A little hit from a yellow plastic container did the trick. And vinaigrette... hmm, isn't that like a mixture of oil and vinegar? How about some fancy balsamic vinegar? (bob is not much of a vinegar fan, so this is the most acceptable route down that road). Keep it simple. Drip the dr bob interpreted vinaigrette over the beets, spread some goat cheese on top and stick it in the oven.

And the result, though not impressive in appearance like in the restaurant, and certainly not a reproduction of the unknown ingredients, is very successful. Hope you think so too. Take your own liberties if you wish. But open up to beets. You're worth it. 

ingredients

8oz recipe ready beets or not
a few heaping spoons of goat cheese
1 t oil
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 squirt of lemon juice (1/2 t?) .

instructions

  1. If your beets are not recipe ready, peel them and cook them by chopping up into small enough pieces and steaming.
  2. If your beets are recipe ready and babies, they still need to be cut in half at least after draining.
  3. Arrange the beets in some small oven container.
  4. Mix up the vinaigrette and drop over the beets evenly using a small spoon.
  5. Then cut small chunks of the goat cheese and place over the beets.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes in a 350 oven to melt the cheese and warm up the beets if they are not already so from step one.
  7. Feeds two people as a side veggie.

notes

  1. This recipe can be scaled up for more than 2 people.
  2. Oops, maybe the color is not so unique. That Thanksgiving dish is cranberry sauce, not beet anything. Never were fans of that either. Also healthy stuff, cranberries that is. Lingonberries are the Swedish version. We discovered that pretty quick at IKEA, although the connection with cranberries came much later.
  3. Bianca Restaurant in Bryn Mawr right behind the firehouse in the space where a past favorite Toscana Cucina Rustica used to reside. Apparently bob signed up on their email list because an email arrived shortly after knocking off their recipe:
    ROASTED RED BEETS AND GOAT CHEESE GRATIN, TOASTED PISTACHIO, ORANGE VINAIGRETTE was their summary and that explains how easy ani went for it among the other terrific choices: pistachio, her favorite nut, implanted from her Middle East origins. Next time we'll have to work that in somehow. Oops, pistacchio is the Italian spelling that we have been using up till now. Never was much good at double letters in that language...
  4. Recipe ready beets courtesy of Melissa's/World Variety Produce. Low in calories but rich in potassium. Thanks to Trader Joe's for bringing Melissa's to our world.
  5. Illustration available.
betgtchz.htm: 18-aug-2006 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]