This is admittedly more labor intensive than the casual torn bread and tomato summer version, but with the weather cooling down, roasting and braising in a warm kitchen becomes a comforting weekend task. I will totally understand if you make the goat's cheese mousse and eat on toast with the apple vinaigrette for an abridged snack version. This recipe started with a weekend getaway to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, by lucky chance during the apple cider festival. We picked up fresh pressed and hard ciders on the main square in Ithaca, and driving the Cayuga wine trail stopped for fresh chevre at a goat creamery called Lively Run - we even got to meet the goats! The sweet apples and beets are rounded out with earthy thyme, red onion and seeded rye, creamy whipped goat cheese mousse, and a tart vinegar-forward warm apple dressing. Enjoy! —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
4 as a side, 2 as a meal
medium red beets
medium red onion
fresh thyme leaves
large sweet-tart apple (I used Fuji)
fresh pressed apple cider, divided
apple cider vinegar
1" cubes of seeded rye bread
heavy whipping cream
olive oil for drizzling, as instructed below
salt and pepper for seasoning, as instructed below.
For the roasted beets and red onions: Preheat the oven to 400F and prepare a foil-lined sheet tray. Trim the roots and stems from the beets and peel, wearing gloves to protect your hands from stains. Place on one half of the baking sheet (I keep the veg on separate halves to keep the beets from over-coloring the onions) and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and the thyme leaves, and toss to coat. Peel the red onion and, leaving the root intact, cut in half along the equator then cut each half into 6-8 wedges. Separate the onion layers (the root end will stay together and the other end will fall into petals, this is fine). Place on the other half of the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and the cinnamon, and drizzle with honey, tossing to coat. Roast in the oven 35 minutes, stirring each pile of vegetables halfway through the cook time.
For the cider-braised apples: quarter and core the apple and cut into 1 -1.5" segments. Place in a medium saucepan with 1 cup of the apple cider and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil on the stovetop over medium-high heat and cook 8-10 minutes until softened. Remove with a slotted spoon (and definitely drink the cider left in the saucepan after it cools a bit).
For the warm apple maple vinaigrette: combine the remaining 1/2 cup apple cider with the maple syrup plus a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil over medium high heat for 5 minutes, then add the apple cider vinegar and simmer an additional 15 minutes to reduce.
For the goat cheese mousse: bring your goat cheese to room temperature then, in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat until soft, about 2 minutes. I used a black pepper goat's cheese, so if you are using plain, add a few grinds of fresh black pepper as you mix. Remove from the mixing bowl into a medium bowl, and switch your mixer over to a whisk attachment (I do not clean the bowl so I don't lose the little extra goat cheese flavor as you whip your cream, next). Add the whipping cream with a pinch of salt to the mixing bowl and whip to firm peaks (really just short of fresh butter). Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the goat's cheese and stir to combine before gently folding in the remaining cream.
For the rye crouton: on an unlined baking sheet, toss your rye cubes with 2 Tbs olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the 400 degree oven for 10 minutes (at the end of your vegetable roasting time), stirring halfway through.
Assembly: In a large salad bowl, mix the apples, onions, and rye croutons by hand. Then scatter the beets over top (I do not mix them all through to prevent coloring everything red). Dollop your goat cheese mousse over the top, and finally drizzle the warm apple maple vinaigrette over everything.