Thursday, April 17, 2014

Roasted Beet Salad with Crème de Cassis Dressing

Salad for supper? Mais, oui! This hearty, herby, French-inspired dish gets a big "Wow" whenever I serve it. It's quite hearty for a vegetarian dish, but at times I'll serve it with slices of grilled pork tenderloin. Your preference, of course.

Roasting the beets is not only easy, it concentrates their sweet flavor. I like to use three different colors - red, gold, and pink - along with mixed baby potatoes to create a colorful and delicious entrée. A crunchy baguette and a bottle of dry rosé wine rounds out this salad perfectly.


For the Dressing:
2 Tbs. champagne vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. good quality Crème de Cassis
6 Tbs. dry white or rosé wine
1 large garlic clove, peeled and put through a press
½ cup olive oil (I use an Herbes de Provence flavored oil)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine first five ingredients. Whisk oil in until blended well. Add salt and pepper.

For the Salad:
1 to 1½ lbs. raw beets (a mix of red, gold, and pink)
1 lb. baby potatoes, (a mix of red, purple, Yukon, and/or white)
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh chopped rosemary
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
Kosher salt
2 8-oz. bags of salad greens of your choice (do include baby spinach)
Fresh basil
Fresh tarragon
1 small (7-oz.) can chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained

Optional Toppings:
Raw pistachio nuts
Crumbled goat cheese
Crumbled Gorgonzola
Homemade croutons
Dried cranberries and/or blueberries

1. Set two racks in the oven and preheat to 425°. Wrap beets individually in aluminum foil. Set on a baking tray. Roast in top third of the oven for 1 to 1¼ hours, turning once, until cooked through. (Add potatoes when beets have cooked for ½ hour.) Let cool. When ready to assemble salad, unwrap beets, remove skins (suggest wearing gloves for this), and dice. Keep colors separate, as the red beets will "dye" the gold and pink beets.

2. Scrub potatoes well. Coat with olive oil, stir in rosemary, garlic, and salt to taste, and set in a baking pan just big enough to hold them. After the beets have been roasting for 30 minutes, add the potatoes to the lower part of the oven and roast until done. Shake the pan a few times during cooking to prevent sticking. Remove potatoes to plate lined with paper towels and let cool. When ready to assemble salad, halve or slice potatoes. 

3. Combine salad greens and fresh herbs on a platter. Top with beets, potatoes, and chickpeas. Place salad on table, passing dressing and toppings separately. Invite each diner to dig in and custom dress his/her own plate. Generously serves 4-5.

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