Toasted Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet, and Pear Salad

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Serves 4
Adapted from: Things Cooks Love

My house has recently undergone a health kick ever since my sister came back from college and decided it was time to make some changes in her diet. While I’m ecstatic about this and I am much more motivated to eat healthy when, well, that’s the only option, because there’s nothing else, sometimes after a long practice I just need something more than vegetables and chicken breasts and peanut butter.

Anyway, this here salad is the result of this recent health kick, as at one point, when you opened up our fridge, there were literally 6 giant bags of spinach piled on top of each other into a Vitamin K mountain. So, I thought I should make some use out of it.

This is actually one of the best salads I’ve ever had. I would eat this any time of the day, any day, and that is saying a lot because I hate raw vegetables. Seriously, while I try to eat healthy, I make my best effort to do it without eating vegetables, which is kind of counter-intuitive, but so is everything I do.  So yeah, anyway, this salad = bomb.com. Home-roasted beets are a million times better than anything store-bought, and it’s so easy; just cut, peel, roast, and boom. The sweet red liquid that comes from them coats the pears and spinach and becomes almost a second dressing for the salad. The warm, melted goat cheese on top is just enough indulgence to make you forget that you’re eating vegetables. Oh God I’m so hungry.

Ingredients:
~1.5 lbs beets, tops trimmed to within half an inch of the crown, peeled
~1/4 cup water
~2 ripe Bartlett pears, cut into thin wedges
~2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
~2 cups packed torn spinach
~1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion wedges
~1 3.5 oz log fresh goat cheese
~2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios (I used pecan halves instead)

For the dressing:
~5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
~3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
~1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
~Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a 9×13 inch backing dish with aluminum foil (the original recipe does not suggest this but my baking dish ended up stained red–LINE IT!) and spread the beets into the dish. Add the water, cover the pain tightly with more aluminum foil, and roast the beets for one hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork. The cooking time will vary depending on their size. I just cut up the bigger beets so that all the pieces were about the same size; I suggest you do this as this will ensure even cooking.

In a small bowl, combine the pears and lemon juice, toss to coat evenly, and set aside.

To make the dressing whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

Add the spinach and onion to the roasted beets. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Divide among 4 salad plates, distributing the beets evenly. Tuck the pear wedges into the salad, dividing them evenly.

Use a thin-bladed knife to carefully cut the goat cheese into 4 equal disks about 3/4 inch thick. To make a clean slice, rinse the blade with hot water and wipe it dry before each cut. The recipe here tells you to use a chef’s torch to toast the goat cheese slices. If you’re one of those put-together people who actually owns a chef’s torch, I admire you But if you’re like me, you’re gonna have to go the less classy direction and broil the cheese slices. Position an oven rack as close as you can get to the broiler and preheat the broiler. Place the slices on a pan and broil until toasted and dark golden; 1 to 3 minutes. Watch it carefully; I burned a couple of my slices. It was still delicious, though.

Carefully slide a wide spatula under each cheese disk and transfer it to the center of a salad. Sprinkle the cheese and salad with the pistachios (or pecans) and serve while the cheese is still warm.

Happy dining!!

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