I know there are people out there who don't like beets, or perhaps have never had occasion to try them. They are a bit odd looking, with the roots and the leaves and the bright colors...if you are a beet hater, I may not convert you, but I urge you to try this if you've never had a beet before! You will fall in love with them, I just know it. I prefer golden beets for this recipe, but red beets would work equally well.
This dish first graced our table with a friend over for dinner, and I had no idea how it was going to turn out. Even I was surprised by how delectable it was and have made it multiple times since then in the last few weeks! If you are having a barbecue or dinner party, this is a fabulous make-ahead side that is a little different and fun.
First, you have to trim your beets- cut off the tops and toss the greens (or save them if you like astringent greens like chard and kale) and cut off any wayward roots. Peel the beets with your vegetable peeler. Using a medium saucepan, cover them with water and set them over medium heat. Now, this is going to require a little extra effort, but trust me on this- drop a whole cinnamon stick and three cardamom pods into the water. You should be able to find whole cardamom in the spice section of nicer grocery stores. It will infuse the poaching liquid and give the beets an extra backbone after you toss them in the dressing without being overpowering. If you can't find the whole cardamom or cinnamon sticks, just omit this step. They will still be delicious.
Cook the beets over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, make your super-hard dressing: mix together equal parts sherry vinegar and olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Be sure to make the dressing in the bowl you'll be using to serve the beets- you want them to hit the vinaigrette when they are still warm, to soak up all that good flavor. Once you've measured out your dressing, chop up your pistachios and set them aside.
Your beets are cooked when you can slide a fork in them (like a baked potato). Pull them from the poaching liquid and chop them up asap- you may lose your fingertips, but they'll grow back. Put the chopped beets directly in the bowl with the dressing, and stir it every few minutes as you add more beets.
After they have all met their new friend Mr. Vinaigrette, you can set the beets aside on the counter and let them sit until room temperature. At this point, you can put them in the fridge and chill until your meal, or serve.
When you are ready to serve, sprinkle the top with the chunks of goat cheese and the chopped pistachios.
Six medium-sized beets, peeled
1 whole cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces goat cheese
1/3 cup roasted salted pistachios, chopped
Cook the beets in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the cardamom pods and cinnamon stock as the water comes to a boil.
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper in the bowl you will use to serve the beets.
Chop your pistachios and set them aside.
Once the beets are cooked, remove them from the poaching liquid and chop into bite size pieces as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Immediately place the chopped beets into the vinaigrette bowl after chopping to soak up the dressing.
Toss the beets well in the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until cooled to room temperature, serve or chill until ready to serve.
Just before serving, top with the chopped pistachios and the goat cheese.
Try not to eat the whole bowl. Or do it, either way.