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stacked beets and goat cheese

Beets are alien vegetables with long hairy tendrils, green and red leaves, and fuchsia stalks.  The bright red stains everything: the knife, the cutting board, the countertop, the floor, my hands, and my clothes.

But, during the holidays, the red and green perfectly match Christmas colors and they form the base of so many sweet, comforting dishes.

Several years ago, every restaurant in the country seemed to seize on beets and goat cheese as the new it-salad.  I ate countless beet and goat cheese salads and loved some and hated others.  In Los Angeles, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant stacked layers of beets with goat cheese and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar.  I liked the idea but hated the execution because the boiled beets ended up flavorless.

This version is equally elegant but tastier because roasting seals in the beets' sweetness which then melds with a thin bit of tart goat cheese.  Because we normally make the salad hours before we are ready to eat it, it is perfect for any holiday table.

Stacked Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Time: 1 hour to prepare; 30 minutes to 4 hours to refrigerate
Serves: 4 people

Ingredients

6 large beets
1/2 cup goat cheese at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
pepper, to taste

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Cut beet greens off beets.  Peel beets and cut ends off.  Slice beets into 1/2 inch layers (don't slice the beets too thinly). 

3.  Brush olive oil on beet slices and lay onto baking sheets.  Roast beet slices for approximately 45 minutes-1 hour until edges are caramelized and beets are cooked through (my oven cooks hot and it takes my oven 45 minutes).  Let beet slices cool.

4.  Mix goat cheese with balsamic vinegar.  Season with pepper (I do not season with salt because the goat cheese usually has a salty flavor).

5.  Spread 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese mixture onto one side of a large beet slice.  Layer with a slightly smaller beet slice and spread 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese mixture on top of second beet slices.  Continue layering.  I build my stacks to 8 layers because, after that, they become unwieldy to eat but you could certainly stack higher.  Do not spread goat cheese on last layer.  Continue building stacks.

6.  Carefully cut stacks into quarters, making sure not to press too hard onto the beet stacks.  I find that the easiest way to cut them is to very gently hold one stack and slice through it halfway and then lay the half-stack on its side to cut into quarters.

7.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  If you leave the beet stacks in the refrigerator longer, the red beet color will seep into the goat cheese.  I prefer the flavor when the beet stacks have been refrigerated for 4 hours or more but they certainly look prettier when they have been refrigerated for only 30 minutes. 

8.  To serve, layer beet stacks on spinach leaves and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.

12/31/2009 09:16
LOVE Beets! I'm Russian, so it's in my blood :)
I've made a few beet salads that included goat cheese and citrus (orange or grapefruit): really good.

Beets also pair well with nuts.
Olga's recent blog post: Lunch at Maoz with Twitter girls
01/01/2010 14:01
Olga, I had no idea that Russians loved beets. I don't think beets grow in India so I don't know what my excuse is. :) I don't think I have ever tried beets and nuts but that does sound like a good combination that I will have to try soon. In fact, I have two beets in my refrigerator right now.
Akila's recent blog post: lavender ginger creme brulee
04/08/2010 05:19
It's not that I like beets or don't like them, I just DON'T THINK about beets, you know? Clearly I should - this combination sounds so lovely! Thank you Akila!
08/31/2010 01:35
I'm not an avid of beets but seems like I might like it too. I'll try the recipe surely my husband will love it.
10/12/2010 04:06
I love the combination of chilled beets and goat cheese. Add avocado, and I'm in heaven.
11/20/2010 09:35
This recipe is perfect for essay holiday occasion.
Carla Franklin's recent blog post: The Talk Cyber Bullying
01/16/2011 15:58
Perfect Recipe! I really love this food!
01/16/2011 15:58
Thanks Jake!
Akila's recent blog post: 25 lions, 24 hours
04/07/2011 10:12
Mmm so good Akila! We're headed to an organic farm/restaurant in Ubud, Indonesia this week - apparently a foodie's dream restaurant where they pick your food right after you order! I'll let you know how it goes!
Manali + Terry's recent blog post: Koh Tao | Thailand: A Lifetime of Memories
04/21/2011 10:39
Thanks guys! That restaurant in Ubud sounds incredible. I can't wait to hear about your experience there.
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I love trying new recipes and feel that there are never enough veggie recipes to try! Especially healthy and delicious ones as in the Beets and Goat Cheese recipe! Yum! Yum!
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