Tuesday, September 06, 2011

roasted beets with basil oil and goat cheese

By Julie

And then like that, summer was gone. In one day we went from another one of a mind-numbingly long string of 90+ degree days to low 70s. What a shock. Is it too early for me to miss the heat? It took me forever to warm up on my weekly Saturday bike ride. I was cold! No, I'm not really complaining. It's awesome to be able to sit in the sun and read and not die of heat stroke. I kind of for a few seconds even got excited about making fall food. It was chilly enough in the house that I enjoyed opening the oven to remove the beets for this. But I'm glad I wasn't roasting winter squash (seriously, I don't understand why I've seen people post recipes throughout summer involving winter squash). And I used my still flourishing (when I water it) basil plant. So I think this was the most perfect thing I could make on a cool end-of-summer night.
I think a lot of people don't fully appreciate beets. Like Brussels spouts. They got a bad rap when, in some medieval ages-esque turn of events, people forgot how to deliciously cook them a few decades ago. They were canned or at best, boiled. And so you have a whole generation or two of people who grew up looking forward to the day they could defy their parents and never eat beets again. But that's coming to an end. People are learning again how to cook all sorts of maligned, seasonal vegetables. And the little beet is showing up in all manner of dishes. Roasting them is just about the easiest thing to do. In fact, this is a super easy little side dish...
...or dinner in my case. I had friends over the night before and I bought two half gallons (1.5 quarts - cheap Breyers bastards) to go with this massive peach crisp I made. Well, apparently, most people don't seem to eat as much ice cream as I do in a sitting. So I was left with 3/4 of each one left. And since I can't throw away food, I'm committed to eating my way through each flavor. Vanilla and peach. And I mix them. It's like peaches and cream with vanilla cream. It's good. I've mixed cinnamon into a bowl too. Then it's like the peach crisp I made, without the crisp, with vanilla ice cream. In any case, I had to have a light dinner so that I could leave room for my ice cream concoction afterward. This beet dish fit the bill.
I used a golden and a red beet. I had wanted to buy a chioggia beet, but Whole Foods was out. You can use any kind of beet you'd like and serve them any way you want. It's a little stuffy to arrange them the way I did for my main picture, but it's nice to eat pleasing looking foods! I waffled between using mint and basil for the dressing. Basil won out, but I'd like to make it with mint some time. For the goat cheese, you could try another crumbly cheese like feta, but I really like the creamy texture of goat cheese.

beets with basil oil and goat cheese
I doubled what I actually made here for purposes of the blog, because I figured most of you wouldn't be eating it solo like I did. Go ahead and make as many beets as you want. You can easily make more dressing if you think you need it.

4 assorted beets, trimmed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup packed basil leaves, plus more for garnish
salt to taste
2-4 ounces goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap beets individually in tin foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, depending on how large they are. Test tenderness with a fork.

2. In a blender, combine melted butter, olive oil, vinegar, and basil. Add salt to your liking and blend again.

3. When the beets are done, let them stand for about 10 minutes, or until you can handle them without dying - you still want them warm when you serve them. Remove the foil and slip the skins off of them. They'll come right off with a little friction.

4. Slice the beets to about 1/4 inch thickness. Arrange on a plate and top with crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of the basil oil. Sprinkle some small basil leaves, or torn larger ones, on top.

So lovely! Until you inhale it, which you will. And you'll still have room for ice cream. Ahh.

This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!

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