Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachios

Even if you don't like beets, try this recipe. If you follow the directions exactly, you will end up with restaurant quality presentation and taste with this recipe which is from Gourmet.

It will take some time to prepare it because you need to roast the beets. You have the option of roasting them a day ahead, peeled and diced, and chilled covered. Make sure you bring them to room temperature before using them. And while peeling they will paint your hands red, so use disposable plastic gloves, it's hard to get that color off.

Pistachio oil makes this dish, but if you can't find it or don't have it handy, I'm adding a recipe I found at Eagle Ranch Pistachios. I actually read this, haven't tried it myself, and it looks pretty easy to make.

You don't have to have the presentation, just putting the salad in a plate is still great, but if you want to, and if you don't have cookie cutters; use an open-ended can. It does work just as well. Make sure you are packing the ingredients so that they don't come undone when you remove the mold.

If you can't find lamb's lettuce, you can use watercress instead. But I seem to find packaged lamb's lettuce at Traders Joes all the time.


BEET AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH PISTACHIOS

Ingredients:
3 large red beets (1 2/3 lb without greens)
2 large golden beets (1 lb without greens)
1/4 cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup pistachio oil
4 oz soft mild goat cheese
3 tablespoons salted shelled pistachios (not dyed red), coarsely chopped
1 oz mâche (also called lamb's lettuce), trimmed (4 cups)
Special equipment: a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter (without handle; at least 2 inches high)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Separately wrap red and golden beets tightly in double layers of foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets.

While beets are cooling slightly, whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking.

When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins. Separately cut red and golden beets into 1/4-inch dice and put in separate bowls. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons dressing to each bowl and toss to coat.

Place cookie cutter in center of 1 of 8 salad plates. Put one eighth of red beets in cutter and pack down with your fingertips. Crumble 2 teaspoons goat cheese on top, then one eighth of golden beets, packing them down. Gently lift cutter up and away from stack. Make 7 more servings in same manner. Drizzle each plate with 1 teaspoon dressing and scatter with some pistachios.

Toss mâche with just enough remaining dressing to coat and gently mound on top of beets. Serve immediately.

Molded beet salad (without mâche) can be assembled 45 minutes ahead and kept, covered, at cool room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

TOASTED PISTACHIO OIL

Ingredients:

1/2 pound salted Heart of the Desert Pistachios, shelled
1-1/2 cups olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Toast the pistachios for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant.
Let cool. Transfer to a food processor and finely grind.

In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil over moderate heat.

Add the oil to the nuts and process until blended.

Pour into a jar, stir in the salt, and let stand overnight at room temperature.

The oil can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.

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