Tuesday, July 29, 2008

roasted beet salad

roasted beet salad with serrano ham and iberico cheese

we had friends over this weekend for dinner and wii time and i had a modified beet salad in mind before we even invited said friends. at our anniversary dinner at hyeholde, my first course was roasted beets (the fancy striped and golden kind), seared ham, and cubes of cheese with a beet reduction, pesto and a few bits of watercress - this inspired me to make it more dinner party friendly and into a "real" salad.

i didn't find any fancy beets, but i did buy a whole bunch of the regular old red ones and set out on my first beet roasting experience. i've eaten beets my whole life (at least i think i have...mom? am i lying? mom? are you even reading these posts!?) but always from a jar or can, or in the form of pickled beets and hard-boiled eggs. oh mah gah i love pickled beets and eggs, so purple-y and vinegar-y. but anyway, my friend kate introduced me to fresh, roasted beets a while back and i was shocked to hear that it's pretty easy to do. please note, if you're not up to the task of doing it yourself, don't eat them anywhere else. if you do, you'll never like canned beets again and your beet loving life will be ruined. and since mine already was (thanks a lot, kate! no really, thank you.), i figured i could roast my own.

real beets. "fresh" from the ground 

so i went around online and looked for beet roasting instructions. my searching time was limited and i settled on what looked like an easy one. i have no idea where that is now because i didn't save the link and have no idea how i came across it, but it doesn't matter. i'll give you "my" instructions including the addition of almost 2 hours of roasting time. oh yes, i found a recipe that said 375F, 40 minutes, good to go. those are lies, ok? but i'll tell you how to do it right based on the one and only time i've done it. 

grab your pan, your sea salt, and your tin foil and let's roast some beets

roasted beets
1. rinse beets and trim tops to one inch, leaving root on (this keeps the beets from bleeding while roasting)
2. pour a layer of sea salt on a cookie sheet (i have no idea why, but it seems important)
3. place beets in a tin foil pouch and pour a bit of olive oil over them
4. secure the pouch to trap steam and place foil/beets on top of the salt layer
5. roast beets at 375/400F for about 2 hours (oven times and beet sizes vary), until tender when fork-poked
6. remove from oven and allow to cool
7. remove skin from beets by gently peeling away from the inner flesh (this turns your hands red)
8. eat, refrigerate, pickle, whatever!

three key players: watercress, iberico cheese, and serrano ham

so two hours behind, i had my roasted beets. luckily, i had already prepped the rest of the salad ingredients and could just toss everything together.

roasted beet salad 
roasted beets, sliced in to wedges (you pick how much you want, I used 5 or 6)
handful of watercress
spring mix greens (yes, prebagged...i already roasted beets!)
1/4 lb serrano ham, cubed
1/4 lb iberico cheese, cubed
3 tbsp beet juice (from a can or you can puree your own)
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. mix the first five ingredients
2. prepare the dressing by stirring beet juice, vinegar and sugar until combined
3. slowly add the olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste (really, taste this whole thing out and adjust to your liking)
4. drizzle dressing over salad and serve (this doesn't last long [overnight] as the liquids tend to wilt the greens)

juicy beets, salty ham and creamy cheese. 

this was one tasty salad. the ham and cheese are way refined and the perfect salty/creamy combo to the sweet, red beets. the watercress is peppery and balances everything out. i was rushing all around and didn't get great shots of the finished product (we had to eat!), so the above is the best i've got. but it was really pretty, trust me.

being beet lovers, husband and i are still enjoying the leftovers of my roasting day (15 beets...). i also have to force myself to eat the rest of the jarred beets that i swiped the juice for the dressing from. ugh! my life is so hard.


Kate said...

That salad sounds delish! Sorry about ruining you for life though (well, okay, maybe I'm not sorry - ha!).

Btw, the way I've cooked beets is to individually wrap them in foil (especially helpful if they're different sizes, or for whatever other reason are cooking at different rates). Also, I set the oven to 400. So they usually take about 1 hour to cook, though sometimes a bit more if they're large.

Ooh, this reminds me - I have some fresh beets from the farm share that need to be used!

Kate said...

P.S. I have no idea why they said to salt the pan - I've never done that!

Thomas said...

I can't believe you bought beets. I bet I had a thousand waiting for me on Thursday, but daddy didn't come to get them . . . Let's see what I get on Thursday. Jesus. I'm still eating that veggie and bean stew you suggested I make. I had it last night. Delicious! I also realized that I need to figure out a card to make with your Gocco.

alauna said...

kate- i will definitely roast in individual foil packets from here on. and i will try without the salt, because all it did was get stuck to my pan in a messy way.

R.R. said...

You're right. They take ages but so so worth it. And they keep for about a week.

Also, I know you're a married gal and all, but if you want a little eye candy with your beets, the guy who sells them at the farmer's market (on the sside) looks like he stepped right out of a calvin klein ad. Deliciousness on two fronts!