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Simple Gourmet: Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chèvre

by | May 27, 2009
Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chevre

Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chèvre

I am very proud to share this recipe with you since it came by special request from my dad–a self-professed beet hater. I won him over with these beets several years ago and he is still talking about them! The same recipe stole my heart back when I thought I hated beets too.

Are you convinced?

Roasted Beets with fresh mint and chèvre is an elegant, impressive dish that hardly requires any cooking skills. If you are still worried you will not like the flavor of beets, you can look for the milder and less messy golden or candy-striped beets. Whenever possible I like to use a few different beet varieties to mix up the colors and flavors, but today I’m sticking with the common red garden beet.

Mint Leaves

Mint Leaves

To begin you must eliminate all thoughts of substituting canned beets for the fresh ones in this recipe. Fresh roasted beets have a rich, sweet and earthy flavor that is completely unlike the flaccid purple slivers that come in a can.

You will also need fresh mint leaves. Most grocery stores and farmers markets will have fresh mint this time of year. Dried leaves really don’t cut it in this recipe.

Chèvre is a soft goat cheese that a close friend of mine describes as “like cream cheese only better.” A little bit goes a very long way, so I always buy the smallest amount possible (this time it cost me $2.89).

Chevre

Chèvre

Be careful not to add the cheese directly to hot beets or it will melt and form an unattractive pink slime. It still tastes good, but it’s better to avoid this problem by cooling the beets beforehand. An hour in the refrigerator works well, but if you are in a hurry you can get away with 10-15 minutes in the freezer.

This dish is very easy to scale for large batches, making it ideal for parties and potlucks.

Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chèvre

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of beets (3 large), any garden variety
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/4 oz. chèvre, crumbled
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375.

If the leaves are still on your beets, twist them off leaving enough stem to use as a handle for peeling. If your beet greens are still fresh and springy I recommend cleaning them and cooking them up with some onions and garlic (cook them like spinach). Beet greens are so full of potassium that they are salty to the taste, so be careful with your seasonings because they are easy to over-salt. Both beets and beet greens are extremely good for people with high blood pressure.

Peel your beets using a vegetable peeler (I recommend this one) and chop evenly into bite-sized cubes. Discard stems. Cubes should be approximately 3/4 to 1 inch on each side. Keep in mind that the larger your pieces the longer they will take to cook.

Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil to beets and toss to coat. Sprinkle beets with salt and place in a single layer in a large Pyrex baking pan. Place in oven on middle rack and roast until beets are tender and have a glazed-like appearance, stirring every 8-10 minutes. Roasting takes approximately 35 minutes.

When beets are finished roasting, transfer them to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 min, but 45 min to 1 hr is preferable.

5 minutes before the beets are done chilling, stack mint leaves on top of each other and chiffonade them by rolling lengthwise like a cigarette and slicing into thin ribbons. I like to cut the ribbons in half once by making a single cut through the middle of the pile along the vein of the leaves. Discard the stems.

Using a fork, crumble a small amount of chèvre into a small bowl or plate and set aside.

Sprinkle mint onto the beets and stir, leaving a few ribbons for garnish. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer beets and mint to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chèvre and remaining mint. Serve immediately.

Do you love beets? Hate beets? Interested in having pink urine?

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Healthy Lunch: Chicken Chard Soup

by | Jan 21, 2009

Since summer ended I have been searching for the perfect winter lunch to bring to work. I want something healthy, delicious and, given the season, warm.

Roasted vegetables are a pretty good choice, but I learned the hard way that they don’t quite have the long-term appeal of summer salads (i.e., I got sick of them really fast).

My latest experiment is soup.

Soup appeals to me for many reasons:

  1. It stores and transports easily and can be heated up in a minute or two in the microwave. This makes it a perfect food for the office.
  2. Almost any recipe can be turned into a soup, so you can enjoy cuisines from all cultures–you could eat soup every day for the rest of your life and never eat the same one twice.
  3. Soups are easy to modify, and hard to mess up.
  4. As many of you know, I have a lot of experience making soup.

I accepted the challenge.

The first place I turned was my faithful Splendid Soups, by James Peterson. I can’t imagine there is a better soup recipe book on the planet. Not only have I used it to make dozens of spectacular soups, but it has made me a better overall cook as well. This book is truly a treasure.*

I had several goals for my first soup:

First, I wanted it to be healthy and light, meaning it should have something green (e.g. chard) in it and be broth based rather than cream based.

Second, I wanted to use the whole chicken I bought at the farmers market. I don’t normally eat meat for lunch, but I had been wanting to experiment with whole chicken and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I ended up modifying one of the vegetable recipes in the book to include chicken. Peterson gives detailed instructions on how to use chicken in any soup, so I simply followed his technique.

My soup turned out divine, but preparing it took longer than I had hoped.

Word of advice: Ask the butcher to quarter the chicken for you (unless you are planning on roasting it). This was only the second time I had quartered a chicken, and though it wasn’t very difficult it definitely cost me 20-30 minutes because of my inexperience. Oops.

Chicken Chard Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium chicken, quartered
  • 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium sweet onions, diced
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 28-0z can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cups (1 box) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 0.5 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil

Heat some olive oil in a pan just large enough for the chicken to cover the bottom. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Turn with tongs and cook for another 5 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. If at any point the chicken begins to burn, lower the heat.

Shred the chard by cutting out the stems (I like to leave a few in, but I cut them in half), stacking and rolling the leaves, then cutting them in thin, 0.25 inch strips. This is the same chiffonade technique we use on basil, sage and mint leaves.

In a 4-quart pot, cook onions, garlic and chilies in olive oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Allow the onions to become translucent, but not brown. Add thyme and cook 2 more minutes.

Add broth, water, tomatoes and chicken and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken feels firm to the touch. Remove chicken and set it aside to cool. Add chard to the soup and simmer 10 more minutes.

Remove chicken skins and cut chicken into bite-sized chunks. Return chicken meat to the soup, add parsley and simmer 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread.

This soup will keep up to 5 days in a cold refrigerator.

*Note: If you decide to buy Splendid Soups (or any other item from Amazon), please consider using one of the links from this site and help support my blog. My favorite books and kitchen equipment are listed in the Shop.
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