Growing up I recall not particularly liking beets, although in our house we children had to have at least a taste of each dish my mother served. She was an exemplary cook in general, but she boiled her beets and made them a la Harvard, an association that must be embarrassing to the school, although no one agrees whether the name has any connection to it. Today, of course, I prefer some foods over others, but I have always eaten what is set before me, (Admittedly, I haven't been faced with a sheep's eye in a Bedouin tent.) My sister, on the other hand, remains a picky eater; so my mom's tasting ploy brought her only a fifty percent success.
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SALAD OF ROASTED BEETS WITH BLUE CHEESE AND WALNUTS
4 medium beets, 3" to 4" in diameter, any variety
8 cups loosely packed baby spinach or mixed baby greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Kosher (coarse) salt
3 ounces firm blue cheese, shredded on the large holes of a grater
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
3 limes cut into quarters
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Trim tops and tails of beets.
3. Wrap beets in one layer in heavy foil or double regular foil. Place on a baking sheet to catch possible drips.
4. Roast until a fork easily pierces the beets, about an hour; cool.
5. When ready to serve salad, toss greens with olive oil, a couple of large pinches of salt, several grinds of pepper. Divide greens among 4 plates; reserve.
6. Slip skins off beets with fingers; they should peel away easily. Trim a bit more if necessary.
7. Slice beets, arranging slices of each beet on top of each plate of greens. Sprinkle each with 1/4 of the blue cheese and 2 tablespoons walnuts. Garnish each plate with 3 lime wedges. (I offer more at the table, because I like things quite tart.)
- Avoid large beets; they can be a bit tough and woody.
- I shred the cheese, because it adheres to the vegetables better than crumbled. Cheese should be cold when you shred it but should sit at room temperature for 15 or so minutes before using.
- Cut the thin line of pith from the top edges of the lime wedges to make them easier to squeeze--less likely to squirt juice into the eyes of those around you.
- I always serve salads at room temperature. We taste flavors best when food is not eaten icy cold or burning hot.
- If your beets come wearing their fresh, crisp leaves (usual at the farmers market--not so often in supermarkets), cook them separately as you would any winter green and have them with another meal. In Cajun country, this would be called a lagniappe or a small gift given to a customer with a purchase, but generally the word has taken on the meaning of a little something extra a gift.