Story Of A Beets Salad
I have to admit – I’m very impartial to the beets salad. Not any beets salad, but Roasted Beets salad. I can’t tell you why. May be it has something to do with the name – “roasted”… “beets”… “salad”. May be my body simply lacking the nutrients which can be found in the roasted beets, and sends the subliminal message”you want this…”. Don’t know. But every time I see a roasted beets salad on the menu in a restaurant, there is a very good chance I will order it.
Interestingly enough, while at home we make many dishes out of beets (beets is one of the staples of the Russian cuisine I’m accustomed to), recipes for those dishes call for beets to be boiled. At the same time, I believe roasting of the beets keeps flavor and sweetness locked in and concentrates it, where in case of boiling it gets all diluted. Roasting also preserves the color – just look at the picture if you want proof.
So for the first time ever, I decided to make a roasted beets salad with goat cheese, grapefruit, baby arugula and pistachio nuts. Before I get to the details, I would like to mention the source of my inspiration for this dish – it was appetizer called “Study of Beets” which I had at the Pinot Café in Los Angeles – you can the story here. That “study of beets” gave me an idea for combination of the ingredients.
Talking about ingredients, for this salad you would need: 4 large beets, 1 large grapefruit, 3 ounces (or less) of goat cheese, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pinch of sea salt, half a cup of pistachio nuts and about half a cup of baby arugula or any similar greens. Note that baby arugula here is not the main ingredient, it works almost like a spice with its mild bitterness, and you can even skip it if you want.
Start from roasting beets at 400F for about an hour or until tender. When roasting the beets, you can play with flavor. I put beets in foil with addition of liquid smoke (don’t wrap it tight, or they will boil) – as a result, beets had nice hint of smokiness. Once ready, let beets to cool off, then peel and slice – size of slices is entirely up to you.
Put sliced beets in the bowl, sprinkle (very sparingly!) with sea salt (I recommend sea salt as it also adds textural sensation) and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add goat cheese (break it up in little pieces by hand). Add completely peeled grapefruit, also broken in pieces, and then baby arugula. Reserve few pistachios, crumble the rest and add it to the salad. Mix everything gently together, put in the bowl and garnish with reserved pistachios. Serve and enjoy!
What about the wine, you’re asking? Of course there should be wine. I didn’t have a chance to test the exact combination, nevertheless I would suggest that good Sauvignon Blanc would work well here. Lets narrow down that “good Sauvignon Blanc” – I would actually suggest 2009 Hyde Vineyards Selene Sauvignon Blanc from Carneros to pair with this dish.
To tell you the truth, I love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre (classic Sauvignon Blanc wine from France) and Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. However, 9 times out of 10 I would avoid California Sauvignon Blanc – lots of them are high-alcohol soulless concoctions. Now, this Selene Sauvignon Blanc – WOW! Probably the best California Sauvignon Blanc and one of the best I ever had from any region.
Grassiness, acidity, fruit – all comes together in a very balanced package with nice finish. Beautiful wine (Drinkability: 8+). I have no doubts this wine would work very well with the beets salad, and I will prove it to myself next time – or wait for you to tell me.