Roasted Beet and Potato Salad

Lately I seem to have some time on my hands. My new job, while it pays well, is boring to the point of tears.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on who you are) I spend a good amount of time trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and that time has been well spent apparently, as a number of yummies have come out of the extra thinking.

I believe roasted beets are the new sexy . I see them all over, and even find myself gravitating weekly to the pre-packaged salad from (you guessed it) Trader Joes. So when I was looking for something new to cook, I decided to try roasting some beets. We had also recently enjoyed a wonderful Sunday brunch at a local hotspot too, and I fell in love with their roasted potatoes. So I thought I’d throw some of those in the mix.

When Tuesday rolled around, I decided to bring these two roasted delectables together in a nice, hearty salad. A roasted potato and roasted beet salad to be exact. With pecans, spicy arugula, creamy goat cheese, sweet and crunchy haricot vert and fresh cilantro (to be even exacter).

I know I always end my food-related posts by insisting that you try the recipe. That can get repetitive I’m sure. So I’ll change it up and do it in the middle of the post instead. Ready? Here goes: DO try this. It’s delicious!

Oh! And what’s a laila post without the rant? So here’s that part too: There seem to be a lot of adults around here that  give me the “ew” face when I talk about some ingredient or other. My mother taught me to never say “ew” to someone else’s food. Funny, she told me that one day when I came home from school, complaining that some kids were “ew-ing” my beef tongue sandwich in pita bread that she had carefully packed me for lunch. Why I was the one to learn a lesson, I don’t know. But it’s stuck with me. And kids can be kids, but I CANNOT stand it when adults say, “ew” or “that’s disgusting,” particularly when it’s a dish from a different culture. It is sooo rude. Might I suggest that you keep your “ew,” and that nasty face, and your “that’s disgusting” to yourselves?

Since I was a child, I hated bell peppers. They just made EVERYTHING taste like bell pepper, particularly when cooked. As a matter of fact, I hated beets too! But I forced myself to try them and eventually grew to like them. Today, I still cannot eat green bell peppers when they are cooked, but will eat them with other ingredients in say, a nice salad. And if I cut the red, yellow and orange ones thin enough and cook them well, I’ve been known to use them in many a stir-fry. I first tried pickled beets and fell in love. And now, roasted beets are my new best friends.

My point is….GROW UP. Somewhere I heard or read that our taste buds change every seven years or so. Explore these changes! Do not allow yourself to be a snotty five-year old that refuses to eat their vegetables. Life’s less fun that way : )

Oh yeah, I was going to give you a recipe….watchout – you know how I like to wing it!……

Roasted Beet and Potato Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing

USE THESE THINGS

3-4 fresh medium size beets (about 3-4 inches in diameter each)

6-7 small potatoes (I used 3 purple, 2 yellow and 2 red)

1/2 lb of fresh (not frozen) haricot vert (french green beans that tend to be thinner, crisper and sweeter than their regular cousins) Trader Joe’s has little bags of fresh haricot verts that are perfect. I use about 1/2 the bag.

6 oz container of your favorite goat cheese (I think it’s a 6 oz container. Whatever a small round container of cheese size is, it’s that one.)

1 bundle of cilantro

1 packet of fresh arugula (I like the baby arugula best) Or buy a bundle of fresh arugula. I can never find that at my grocery store, so I get the pre-packaged, pre-rinsed kind instead.

1/2 a cup pecan or walnut pieces

honey (I love me the clover honey from trader joe’s)

dijon mustard (whatever kind you like – I used coarse-grain)

olive oil (I used a wonderfully fragrant spanish olive oil)

two baking sheets (if you just have one it’s okay. You’ll just roast the potatoes after the beets)

a pair of tongs

YOU CAN DO THIS

1. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees to preheat for the roasting. While the oven is preheating, get a pot of salted water boiling on the stove. While the water is coming up to a boil, clean and cut your potatoes. I like to leave the skin on, but you can peel them if you’d like. You don’t really need to peel these little ones though. Make sure you don’t cut them too small or they’ll just shrivel up in the roasting process. Try to stick to 1-inch pieces. If you’re using the small potatoes, then it will only take about 3-5 cuts per papa.

2.  Once the pot of water is boiling, throw the potatoes in. You’re only PAR-boiling them, you’re not trying to cook them completely. So be careful, as you don’t want them to over cook and become mushy. You’ll know they’re ready when you stick a fork in one and it goes in super easy towards the outside, but gives you a little resistance as you get closer to the middle. This will only take about 3 minutes. Here’s a wiki on how – with pics! But you’ll notice the papas in the pics are much bigger. So stick to the 3 minutes, not the 15 or so minutes they suggest. Once par-boiled, drain them and set aside.

2. Take out your baking sheets, and line them with foil. As mentioned above, if you don’t have two baking sheets, I suggest roasting the beets first. So let’s do this! Your beets probably came in a bundle of three, connected to beet greens that are longer than a foot! Am I right? Okay, cut off the beet greens leaving about 3 inches attached to the beet. (This will help keep the beet from bleeding all over the place in the oven.) Scrub the beets to get off any residual soil. Yes, your beets should still have their skin on. Post-roast, they’ll be easy to peel. Trust me.

3. Place the beets on one of your foil-lined baking sheets. Drizzle them with olive oil and some kosher salt. Then take another piece of foil and create a little packet by folding together the edges of your top and bottom pieces of foil. You want the foil packet to keep all of the steam inside, so try to leave zero openings.

(If you’re only working with one baking sheet, go ahead and put your foil packet of beets in the oven now. You’ll need about 3o minutes. Feel free to pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees instead of 375. This can knock about 5-10 minutes off your roasting time.)

4. So whether you’re using a second baking sheet, or you’ve completed step 3 and you’re ready to start the papas, simply line (or re-line) your baking sheet with foil. Spread the par-boiled potatoes onto the foil. Keep them spread out so each one has room. You want the heat to reach every inch of that potato to get it nice and crispy. Drizzle heavily with olive oil (not so there are pools of oil on your foil – haha oil on your foil – but so the papas don’t dry out. Remember, they are at a high temperature and will need to be in there for a good 20 minutes or so.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Basically, season as you’d like. I would taste the potato here before you salt though. I have a tendency to over salt the boiling water, so that I don’t need to salt the potato at all in the next step. I like it like that, as it’s not a “salt crust,” but rather a well-seasoned potato morsel. But do as you like, of course!

5. Place both of the baking sheets into the oven. I don’t know if it matters which sheet goes where. I think I put the beets on the higher rack. The potatoes will need about 20 minutes to roast. Make sure to turn the potatoes about half-way through the roasting process, and then spread them out again so they’re not touching. Your beets will need about 30 minutes. It really depends on the size of your veggies, what the true temp of your oven is, and the fact that I kind of always wing things and forget to write down how long things take. Sorry. You’ll know when the potatoes are ready. They’ll show you by looking all crispy and delicious and browned but not burnt. The best way I’ve found to check the beets is to arm myself with two oven mitts, and a steak knife. I open the packet up around the 25 minute mark (careful of the immediate release of steam!) and try to get a knife all the way through the beet, or at least to the middle. If it goes in easy, they’re done! If not, add five-minute increments. Try your darndest to close the foil packet completely each time though.

6. While the papas and beets are roasting, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil (or just use the same potato pot. Why get two pots dirty?!). Clean and trim your haricot verts and throw them into the boiling water – for only a couple minutes! You’re looking for a bright green color. Once a couple minutes are up, drain them and run them under cold water to stop the cooking. You want them to be crunchy – not gross and mushy.

7. When your potatoes are ready, simply take them out and set them aside. When your beets are ready, you’ll need a knife or hefty fork, and a pair of tongs. The easiest (and least messy way) I have found to peel the skin from the beets is to stick a fork or knife into one to hold it steady, and use the tongs to scrape and peel the skin away. If your beets are cooked enough, they should peel off RIDICULOUSLY EASY. If they don’t, well, the beets aren’t cooked enough!

8. Once peeled, cut off the greens, then cut the beets up to your desired size. I matched the beet cubes to the size of my potatoes. By the way, I recommend doing all of this within the foil you cooked your beets in, so all of that permanently-staining beet juice stays contained. I recommend laying the top foil on a cutting board, and just picking up the bottom foil (beets and all) and placing it on your other piece of foil. That way you can cut without ruining your baking sheet, but also have the foil to keep the mess at bay.

9. Set your beets and potatoes aside to cool. You don’t want them wilting greens. While that’s happening, rinse your cilantro. You can chop them up or just pull the leaves off like I do. It’s a lazy way to do it, but I also enjoy the burst of flavor I get from a whole leaf.

10. Get dressed! You naughty little minx you! Have you been cooking naked? Be careful, splashes of hot water can hurt. I’m not speaking from experience. I’m just..um…using common sense.

11. Okay, what I really meant was….make your dressing. I kinda made it up (what’s new) so you’ll have to bear with me here. It was really just 2 parts course-grain dijon mustard, to one part clover honey to a 1/2 part spanish olive oil. Whisk it well until it is emulsified.

8. Assemble! Grab your favorite salad bowl and start piling on the yummies. Throw in your arugula, then the haricot vert. Next, add your papas and your beets. I used the whole damn carton of goat cheese because I like things nice and goaty. Then add the cilantro and nuts. You can toss the whole thing with the dressing, or just bring your dressing to the table. You can also toast some awesome crusty bread, or add some pre-cooked chicken slices to the salad for something a little more hearty.

9. Over dinner, discuss how bitchin’ you are for creating such an awesome homemade dinner salad from scratch.

10. Let me know how it went : )

    

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