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Hey Summer, Say Hello to Fall

Hey Summer, Say Hello to Fall

Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad

There is still a lot of stone fruit hanging from the trees, if you are lucky enough not to have been hit by a late spring freeze. But truth be told, I’ve had my fill of cobblers and pies (and don’t really race to the sweeter side even at the peak of the season). I am much more likely to turn even the sweetest of produce into something savory given the chance. So ponder this if you will – a nectarine or peach salad, made savory with fresh goat cheese and mint, and…wait for it…tossed with some luscious roasted beets! Trust me, this works.

Perfect Peaches

I won’t take full credit because my pal Cindy dates it back to her Grandpa. Not sure, but I think I have made a few tweaks of my own. I love to drizzle mine with raspberry condimento. If you aren’t familiar with these, they tend to be more flavored (all kinds of fruits), cheaper, and have a higher viscosity than bona fide Balsamico. They are generally made in the traditional manner, but made in the wrong region or matured less than required for official Balsamico designation. Win-win in my books: great flavor and cheaper. And, I like the thickness. All the better to use as a judicious drizzle. The Cheese Lady has an enormous collection of flavors, though apparently in-store only. For online sourcing, I’m a big fan of O&Co.

This dish works on so many levels. The pungent earthiness associated with roasted beets is the perfect foil for the juicy sweetness of nectarines or peaches. The acidity of fresh goat cheese provides a needed contrast to any richness. And lots and lots of fresh mint truly elevate all flavors.

Best Beets

I love the idea of candy cane beets, which have a beautiful red and white stripe when cut into. But I have to say, their pattern is best in slices, not wedges, and their radiance smudges when cooked. There is nothing quite like a garnet-hued beet wedge up against a marigold-tinged nectarine wedge. If you haven’t roasted beets – before or lately – it could not be simpler! Preheat the oven to 400oF. Trim both ends of the beet and wrap each one, individually, in foil. Place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size. Start testing after 30 minutes, by sliding a knife into the flesh. The knife will slide right out when they are done. Remove from the oven and unwrap, when cool enough to handle. The skin will slide right off. There is zero point in struggling with a peeler in advance – this is much easier and has the added benefit of keeping all the nutrients within.

Be warned however, that you can’t tent the whole pan of beets in one big foil envelope. I’m horrified to report that I was beat by beets once before when I tried to, with 35 pounds of beets, short cut the individual wrap. I basically created a big ass beet steamroom, and they got very sweaty and harder still as they shriveled into small rocks. Just something about that individual foil wrap that makes the difference. Sauna 1. Steam 0, if you are keeping score.

Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad

  • 1 pound roasted beets, any variety, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 pound nectarines or peeled peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • Raspberry condimento (what’s condimento, you ask? See article above.)
  • Serious amount of mint, coarsely chopped*

*I like to remove the leaves from the stem, stack the leaves, and fold into a tight roll. Snip cross-wise with sharp scissors. You almost can’t have too much mint. Especially if it’s free because you steal it from a neighbor like I do.

Must have Mint

Prep

Arrange the beets and nectarines or peaches in a serving bowl. I try not to stir too much because the colors will start to bleed.

Crumble the cheese on top.

Drizzle with the raspberry condimento.

Sprinkle the fresh mint on last, just before serving.

Serves 8.

Nectarines and Candy Beets

 

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Roasted Vegetable Napoleon

Roasted Vegetable Napoleon

Beets and goat cheese are a match made in heaven. Adding the goat cheese to roasted potatoes elevates this root vegetable appetizer to a whole new level of sublime.

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh beet juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, roasted at 350oF for 20 minutes, peeled
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Napoleon

  • 1 pound beets, scrubbed
  • 1 pound baking potatoes, scrubbed
  • 3 ounces of soft herbed goat cheese, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/3 cup milk, warmed
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil

Directions

Make the vinaigrette:

Place all the ingredients in the blender and blend on high until emulsified. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Makes about ½ cup.

Make the napoleon:

Roast the beets and the potatoes at 400oF until a fork inserts easily, about one hour. When cool enough to handle, peel both.

Press the roasted potatoes through a ricer, or mash by hand. Using a handmixer, begin to whip the potatoes, while adding the goat cheese, butter, salt and pepper and slowly drizzling in enough milk to reach desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Thinly slice the beets and set aside.

Brush the zucchini and yellow squash with oil and grill or sauté until golden, about 1 – 2 minutes per side.

In a 3-inch ring, stack the vegetables by layering the beets, then the whipped potatoes, and finish with a layer of alternating rounds of zucchini and yellow squash. Repeat, to create 6 vegetable stacks.

Transfer the napoleons to an ovenproof dish and keep warm at 200oF until ready to serve.

To serve, place the warmed napoleons in the center of the salad plate and scatter the salad mix around the outside edge. Drizzle the beet vinaigrette from the end of spoon over the greens.

Serves 6