Monday, June 10, 2013

Roasted Golden Beet and Arugula Salad

One of my favorite scenes in the children's book Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Clearly (same beloved author who wrote the Ramona books) is when Ellen picks a huge beet from a vacant lot for show and tell.  She proceeds to ruin her school dress with the red beet juice but is so exultant of her find.  That scene has always stuck with me (I suppose it helps that I usually re-read the book every other Christmas along with Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  There.  I've told you my read-specific-children's-books-every-Christmas-secret.  I hope you won't judge.)

I digress.  Back to beets.  They are a bit ugly on the outside, dusty and rugged.  They have been accused of "tasting like dirt" to quote a certain adorable friend of mine.  They also present a bit of a conundrum to the ordinary cook--I mean, we certainly don't want them to be soggy and salty like canned beets now do we?  And we don't want to ruin our clothes with red beet juice.  What's our solution?  Three words:  Fresh Golden Beets. This recipe came to me after a delightful trip to the San Luis Obispo farmer's market this past spring.  And I am happy to say that my friend enjoyed it immensely and said the beets did not taste like dirt at all!  

Ok, ok, there are golden and purple beets in this picture.
 I felt bad leaving the purple beets out in the cold.
We'll use them for something else later this week.
Beets are so good for you--a good source of folate and considered a cancer-fighter.  Also chock-full of fiber.  We are going to roast them and use them to top a delightful arugula salad.

Let's chop these lovelies up!  Cut the beet in half and then in quarters and then cubes.  You can make the cubes as big or small as you like.  I like them medium-sized so they get done quickly but still have a good texture to them.

Throw your cubed beets on a cookie sheet (I like to put down a piece of parchment paper first for easy cleanup!)

Next we'll toss the beets with some rosemary, salt and pepper.  Now, I'll be honest, I would use fresh herbs over dried herbs any day of the week.  However, I didn't buy fresh rosemary because I have this idea that I will plant some on my front patio in the immediate future.  Ahem, that hasn't happened quite yet.  So, I used dried rosemary.  But the moral of the story is--you can use either!  Improvise is my middle name! I used my lovely baby mortal and pestle from the set I got for Christmas from my parents to grind up the rosemary so it wasn't quite so unwieldy.  Isn't it cute?

We'll roast the beets for about 30-35 minutes or until they are tender (but not overdone.  No one wants mushy beets!)

While the beets are roasting, let's make a honey balsamic glaze and neglect to take any photos of the process.  So sorry about that!  It's super easy, promise.  If you aren't wanting to make your own glaze, Trader Joe's has a groovy balsamic glaze in a bottle that is a-maz-ing and you won't have to dirty up a saucepan.  But if you want to make your own, it's so easy and you will want to just eat it by the spoonful out of the pan!  Plus it's a good skill to have in your cooking may very well make another appearance (or many) on this bloggy blog.

Peppery arugula sings a perfect duet with the beets.  Something about the freshness of the arugula is magical with the earthiness of the beets.  Throw on some pumpkin seeds and our balsamic drizzle and we are set!

Roasted Golden Beet and Arugula Salad
*Serves 2-4 depending on serving size, can double/triple/quadruple at will
*Prep time: 15 minutes
*Cooking time: 30-40 minutes (you can do some of the non-beet prep while the beets are cooking)
*Kitchen gear required:  Cutting board, vegetable peeler, knife, saucepan, cookie sheet, measuring cups/spoons, mortar and pestle (totally optional and probably unnecessary but I really wanted to use mine)

3 golden beets
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1/2-1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary)
1/2 tsp. each salt & pepper
Olive oil mist or 1 tsp. olive oil (optional)
4 cups washed arugula
1/3 cups shelled pumpkin seeds

Honey-Balsamic Glaze:
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey

Ready, set, go!
1.  Wash, peel and chop the beets.  Put salad plates in fridge to chill.
2.  Toss beets with rosemary, salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil or olive oil mist if you are using oil.
3.  Spread beets on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 30-35 min. until tender.  If they aren't done in that amount of time (I don't know if you are using a professional-grade stove or your vintage 1940s stove), just cook them until you can pierce them with a fork.
4.  While the beets are cooking, bring the balsamic vinegar and honey to a boil in a saucepan and then lower the heat until it's just simmering.  Simmer until it's thick and syrupy and then take off heat.
5.  Let beets cool a bit while you put the washed arugula on a plate.
6.  Arrange beets on arugula, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and top with balsamic glaze.  


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