Over the years, I’ve come to discover that there are very few fruits or vegetables I don’t like. I don’t care for honeydew as it is used far too often as a filler in my fruit salad and I absolutely loath peas. They are mushy and taste like garbage.
I find this amusing as, although I despise peas, I absolutely adore other veggies that most children and adults alike shun. Case and point – beets. J hates the beets which I find incredibly lame because I would happily eat them everyday.
My great love for beets is so great, it even extends into that rare category of foods I will eat from a can. I’ll eat them straight outta the can, throw ’em in salads, or heat them up with a sprinkling of salt for an impromptu side dish.
So when I was up at Blackberry Farm for our Southern Food Writing Conference Dinner a few weeks ago and I saw that our first course was a beet salad I was more than excited. First, because I knew it would be amazing, and second, because although my love for beets is great, I have (horror of horrors) never had a freshly prepared beet.
The salad, of course, was wonderful. Fresh beets and strawberries served with a blue cheese, saba, and pea tendrils. An interesting combination that would have never crossed my mind, and now I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to attempt and make this for myself.
Off to the Farmer’s market I went armed with the Bella and five bucks. Beets are currently in season so I snagged a bunch for $3 – Score! this left me two extra dollars to purchase my favorite local treat Cruze Dairy Farm’s Salty Caramel ice cream – Double Score!
Upon some very extensive research, I schooled myself on how to successfully roast a beet and got to work. A few explanations before we get started:
- I decided to mix the blue cheese and cream cheese together to lighten the flavor of the blue. it can be a bit intense and I didn’t want it to overpower the other ingredients. Feel free to simply use a milder cheese such as goat or feta.
- Turns out when I purchased my beets, I got a standard purple one, as well as two smaller paler ones – golden beets, but I’m not certain. The smaller ones were slightly sweeter than the larger and I preferred it over the two. Feel free to mix and match your beat varieties!
- Saba is some sort of elusive ingredient involving a grape reduction. Although it was delicious in B.Berry’s salad, I didn’t have the patience to go on a manhunt looking for it. I substituted a balsamic reduction. Easy peasy – pour half a cup of balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan, turn the heat on medium low and allow to simmer until its reduced by half. Boom – balsamic reduction.
- I know some people are weird about strange food combinations. Strawberries and beets being one of them. When I plated the salad I took two different approaches. One of you types that want to ease your way into the flavor mixing process, and one for those who don’t want to mess with presentation. Take your pick!
Roasted Beet & Strawberry Salad
Yields: 2 large servings but it just depends on the beet size
- 3 or 4 fresh beets
- Olive Oil
- 2 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons blue cheese
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 5 fresh strawberries
- Fresh Italian or curly parsley
- Preheat the oven to 375
- If you have fresh beets with stems, chop off the stems and leaves (save if you are feeling ambitious) and wash under cold water. a little scrubbing may be required to get all the dirt off. Dry with a paper towel.
- Place the beets on a square of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap securely in the foil creating a little packet.
- Roast the beets for about an hour, or until you can easily poke holes in it with a fork (similar to when you bake a potato)
- While the beets are cooking, allow your cream cheese to come to room temperature. Mix the cream and blue cheeses together and put back in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld.
- Once the beets are finished, unwrap the foil, but don’t remove. Their juice will stain anything it comes in contact with, so allow them to cool in the foil to avoid a mess.
- While the beets are cooling, place your balsamic vinegar on the stove to reduce (see instructions above)
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle, apply slight press to the outside skins and they should begin to peel away. Remove all the skin.
- Chop up your beets into bite size chunks and place on a plate.
- Chop up your strawberries in similar fashion and place on the plate next to the beets
- Place a dollop of the cheese mixture on the place as well
- Drizzle the balsamic reduction all fancy-like if you wish on or around the vegetables.
- Top the salad with freshly chopped parsley. Viola!
If you are taking the far less intensive approach. Throw everything in a bowl and stir it around until the cheese has thoroughly covered everything. Drizzle with the balsamic and sprinkle with parsley.