Raspberry vinaigrette brightens this scrumptious starter
Beets have a thing for goat cheese. So let’s throw them together, we say.
Add some mint, drizzle on raspberry vinaigrette – and you’ve got a dish that sings with savor and flavor. One that’s easy to make, too. Great for stressless entertaining.
Which is perfect this time of year. Because on a hot summer evening, you don’t want dinner to turn into a goat rodeo.
Recipe: Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Mint
We made the vinaigrette for this salad with homemade Raspberry Shrub syrup. If you don’t have your own home-brewed version on hand, you can find commercial shrub syrups online. Or just substitute raspberry or balsamic vinegar (if using the latter, one flavored with raspberries would be ideal).
This dish tastes best if put together right before serving. But you can prepare all the ingredients hours ahead of time, then combine them at the last minute.
You’ll need to cook the beets for this recipe (that takes about 30 minutes), and then let them chill for an hour or so. It will take about 10 minutes to prep all the other ingredients – you can do that while the beets are cooking. Final assembly time is about 5 minutes.
This recipe serves 4.
- 1 bunch of beets (about 1 pound)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons raspberry Shrub Syrup (may substitute raspberry or balsamic vinegar; if so, use about 1 tablespoon)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 teaspoons minced shallots
- 5 to 6 grinds black pepper
- 2 or 3 pinches of kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- 3 to 4 ounces soft goat cheese (one of those little logs is about the right size)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
- Cut the leaves off the beets, leaving an inch or so of stalk attached. Do not cut the root ends. Scrub the beets, then add them to a cooking pot filled with cold water. Place the pot on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beets become tender. This usually takes about 30 minutes, but start checking after 20 minutes – they’re done when a fork goes in with just a bit of resistance. If in doubt, it’s better to undercook the beets for this dish. (If you’d rather cook the beets in the oven, we give instructions for doing so in the Notes.)
- While the beets are cooking, prepare the vinaigrette: Add the raspberry shrub (start with just 1 tablespoon) and the olive oil to a small jar or bowl that has a lid. Peel the shallots and mince them finely, then add them to the olive-oil mix. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Place the lid tightly on the mixing jar, then shake the mixture vigorously until well combined. Taste, and add more shrub if necessary (we generally end up using about 2 tablespoons), and adjust the seasoning. Cover the container and refrigerate the vinaigrette until ready to use.
- Cut the goat cheese into chunks of ¼ inch or a bit larger. Place the cheese in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Wash the mint, but don’t chop it yet. We usually put the mint stems in a glass of water (like a bouquet) to keep the mint fresh. We leave ours on the kitchen counter, but you could refrigerate it if you want.
- When the beets are finished cooking, drain them in a colander placed in the sink. Then run cold water over them to stop the cooking and help cool them down. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them (beets stain, so we suggest wearing gloves). The skins usually peel off easily by hand, but use a vegetable peeler if necessary.
- Cut the remaining stems and roots off the beats. Then chop the beets into dice of about ½ inch, and place them in an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- When ready to serve the salad, add the cooked and chilled beets to a mixing bowl.
- Remove the leaves of mint from their stems, and chop the leaves coarsely. Add half the mint leaves to the beets (reserving the rest for Step 10).
- Shake the vinaigrette again to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed, then add it to the beets. Toss together with the mint.
- Plate the beets. Add chunks of goat cheese to each plate. Sprinkle remaining mint on top, and serve.
- We strongly recommend using fresh mint in this dish (its flavor is magical). Dried mint won’t work well, alas. If you don’t have mint, try fresh basil or parsley.
- Do taste the vinaigrette as you’re making it, and adjust the amount of shrub (or vinegar) to your preference. Also adjust the amount of salt and black pepper to taste – we’ve given quantities that work for us, but your taste buds are your own.
- For an extra pop of flavor in the vinaigrette, you can add a teaspoon or two of Dijon-style mustard.
- If you prefer to oven-steam the beets: Wash and trim the beets, then wrap each one in foil. Place in a 400-degree F oven and cook until just tender – about 40 minutes.
- BTW, cooking time for beets does depend somewhat on size – smaller ones cook faster. When buying beets, try to find ones that are more or less equal in size. That way, they’ll all be done at around the same time.
- Outside of North America, beets are usually called “beetroot.”
- We like the deep purple beets, but you can also find golden beets.
- As noted above, beets (at least the purple ones) can stain. So wear disposable gloves when preparing them.
- The color in beets doesn’t break down in your digestive system. So it can color your urine and stool. Just so you know.
- Beets usually are sold with their greens. If the beets are young, you can use the greens raw in a salad. Otherwise, cook them as you would spinach (or other greens).
- In the US, beets are available in supermarkets throughout the year. They’re at their best, though, from late spring until early fall.
The Beet Goes On
“We got the beet!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And the goat cheese too.”
“Yup, this salad is in mint condition,” I said.
“And it’s wearing a raspberry beret,” said Mrs K R.
“Would you like another helping, my little chèvre?” I said.
“Give me the beet, boy,” said Mrs K R.
“That comment got my goat,” I said.
“Better stop this,” said Mrs K R. “Before our readers tell us to beat it.”
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