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Author Notes: These little gems are layered with earthy flavors and make use of both the beet and its’ greens. The chèvre can be as subtle or dominant as you like and is a long-time partner of the beet. The sauce is bright and freshly-flavored taking on a unique character from the L’Estonell Grenache vinegar. If you are unable to find this type of vinegar, you can use another red wine vinegar instead but you might need to adjust quantities based on the acidity. It is best to make the sauce just before heating your beet towers so that it is still warm. You can reheat it gently in the microwave but the color will lose some of the brightness. Extra sauce could be used the next day to flavor ravioli filling or for enhancing soup. The color will not stay bright but the flavor is still pure.
These are a great do-ahead for a dinner party; just pop them in the oven after cocktails and plate them up with the sauce for an elegant first course. They could also be served at room temperature.
—10 Legs in the Kitchen
Makes approximately 12 towers
INGREDIENTS (for the tower)
handful Head baby beets with greens attached (approximately 4 small beets)
tablespoon olive oil (for roasting), plus additional for sautéing the greens
Sea salt and fresh pepper to season
medium shallot, chopped
tablespoons L’Estonell Grenache vinegar (plus a dash for the boiling water)
tablespoons tap water
tablespoons lemon juice plus one wedge to squeeze over beets
ounces chèvre (I like the tame, refined flavor of Laura Chenel goat chèvre but use your favorite)
Lemon zest to garnish
- Remove the greens from the beets, discard the stems and put the greens in a bowl of cold water to clean. Swish, wash, swish, rinse and drain well.
- Scrub the beets clean and pat dry. Put the beets on a sheet of foil large enough to cover them in a packet.
- Drizzle over the TB olive oil then squeeze over a lemon wedge and drop the rind onto the beets; season with salt and pepper. Wrap the foil into a packet and set on a baking sheet.
- Roast the beets in a pre-heated 425 degree oven until tender when pierced with a knife (approximately 30-45 minutes depending on their size).
- Remove and let cool, packet opened. Using a paper towel, rub off the skin (if cooked tenderly, the root end should rub off easily, otherwise and trim the top and bottom to create a straight surface.
- Slice the beets 1/16 - 3/32" on a mandolin. Set these aside.
- Clean the beet greens and gather them on the chopping block as if you are about to julienne basil (grasped in the palm of your hand with the tip bunched up but exposed) slice horizontally into strips and cut the strips into bite size pieces.
- Place a sauté pan over high heat. Sprinkle a few small pinches sea salt and 5-10 grinds fresh pepper into the pan. When heated, add a drizzle of olive oil then the chopped shallot. Stir to blend and add the cut beet greens.
- Turn the heat to medium low and add the 2 TB Grenache vinegar (followed by up to 2 TB tap water if needed). Let this cook until wilted and soft yet not mushy; one more minute or two, then set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir with a fork, the (+/-) 2 oz. chèvre & 1 TB lemon juice until it is a consistency that is spreadable (add a little water if needed).
- TO ASSEMBLE Working on a sheet of wax paper or a plate, set one slice of beet in front of you and spread 1/2 tsp (or so) chèvre over the beet. Top with 1 tsp (or so) of cooked beet green mix. Repeat with another beet slice, then goat cheese and then green. Top with one more beet slice.
- TO SERVE Place all your beet towers on a baking sheet and heat for 5 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.
- I like to plate these individually. There are several ways to craft the presentation. I like to place one tower in the center of a white plate and drizzle the sauce around. If you would like to enjoy more nuances of the sauce, you could also ladle a spoonful of it on the plate (spreading it to form a pool larger than the beets) and place the beet tower on top of the sauce.
- Garnish with some freshly grated lemon zest
INGREDIENTS (for the sauce)
leaves red chard, inner stem removed
stems brocolini (reserve the head for eating elsewhere)
whole cloves garlic, peeled
Pot of water salted (approximately 2 tsp kosher salt) with a dash of Grenache vinegar
cups boiling water
teaspoons L’Estronelle Grenache vinegar
teaspoon L’Estronelle Grenache vinegar
Sea salt and pepper just to taste
- Bring the pot of water to a boil.
- Add the broccolini stems and garlic clove. One minute later add the chard leaves. Keep at a moderate boil for 2 minutes.
- Next, using kitchen tongs, remove, first the chard, then the garlic and broccolini stems to a processor (I use a Magic Bullet for this because it is compact, transportable and processes small amounts well).
- Add in part of the 1/4 cup boiling water, the vinegar and the oil.
- Process until liquefied. Remove the lid to let out the steam. Taste first then season with salt and pepper. Add more boiling liquid if needed.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dark, Leafy Greens