Baked Beets with Pistachios 5 (1)

Baked Beets With Pistachios

When Mark and I went to Australia in 2015, we discovered baked beets served a myriad of ways. They are also lovely over greens. If doing the latter, we crumble the goat cheese over the top instead of whipping. In either case, pistachios add a delightful contrast in flavor and texture, and a little fresh thyme looks lovely tucked in here and there.

  • BAKED BEETS WITH PISTACHIOS
  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 1hr 50mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
8 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
In a 1-quart bowl, beat together with a hand mixer until perfectly smooth (1-2 minutes). Cover and chill to thicken while preparing the beets. A hand mixer allows access to all parts of the bowl.
1/2 cup pistachios Spread evenly across a little pan that fits inside a toaster oven; toast at 350°F just until fragrant (4-5 minutes); set aside to fully cool. Nuts burn easily. Pistachios are soft while still hot.
16 ounces beets
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Position an oven rack just below center; preheat to 400°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Place an 18-inch long sheet of aluminum foil over a quarter sheet pan. Cut off beet tops and roots; wash, dry, and rub with oil. Crowd together on foil; distribute seasonings over top. Fold foil edges to form a tightly sealed packet. Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly. Baking tightly sealed promotes tender beets, whereas roasting peeled and diced yields a tough, fibrous texture.
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I like Modena)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
Bake until fork tender (60-80 minutes). Let rest, until cool enough to handle (15-20 minutes). Meanwhile, add seasonings to a 1-quart glass bowl; set aside. Slip on plastic gloves, remove beets from foil; cut off tough bases. Slide off peels with your thumbs; cube on a dark plastic cutting board. Toss with seasonings, cover and chill 1-2 hours before serving with a smear of goat cheese and a sprinkle of pistachios. Beet juice stains unprotected hands, plastic, bamboo, and light colored cutting boards. Chilling gives seasonings time to penetrate beets.

 

Insalata Caprese 5 (1)

Insalata Caprese with Glazed Balsamic

Insalata caprese (ka-PREE-zee) is Italian for “Salad of Capri.” I love the simplicity of this salad. Many people like to serve with balsamic, or balsamic glaze, but I feel that it overwhelms the rest of the ingredients.

Feel free to shake it up. Skip the basil dressing and go straight for the extra-virgin olive oil, or drizzle the basil dressing on the serving platter before assembling the salad on top. Want a little more visual impact? Use a variety of tomato shapes and colors. It all works!

  • INSALATA CAPRESE
  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 0hr 25mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 ounce flat-leaf parsley
1/2 ounce sweet basil
1/2 ounce Italian oregano
Up to 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Up to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
For herb dressing: In an electric blender or food processor, pulse all together to chop up herbs (20-30 seconds). Measure out 2-3 tablespoons into a decorative container. With a flexible silicone spatula, scrape the remainder into a 1-cup canning jar, cap tightly and refrigerate for another use, such as a pasta sauce. Parsley adds fresh, grassy notes, basil adds a peppery, minty flavor, while oregano adds a pungent bite. It is difficult to make this in a smaller quantity.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar For balsamic glaze: In a 1-quart tri-ply saucepan bring to a simmer over medium heat. Swirl pan every minute, or so, until reduced to a thick glaze that coats the pan base when tilted (6-8 minutes). Cool 5 minutes, and then load a plastic squeeze bottle. Drizzle 1 tablespoon in a decorative zigzag down an oblong serving platter. Refrigerate the remainder for another use, such as over vanilla ice cream. A wide pot promotes rapid evaporation. If balsamic is drizzled over the salad, it quickly becomes unsightly as it spreads and soaks into the mozzarella. It is difficult to make this in a smaller quantity.
4 thick slices from the center of an 8 ounce Mozzarella ball
4 thick slices from the center of a large vine-ripened beefsteak-style tomato
1 black cherry tomato, quartered
10-12 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Alternate mozzarella and tomato slices down the oblong serving platter. Tuck a basil leaf behind each slice, alternating right and left as you go. Tuck in quartered cherry tomatoes around the edges and drizzle with olive oil. Serve dressing on the side in a decorative container. Alternatively, serve dressing in a drizzle over the salad. Adding a second variety of tomato adds interest to the salad without being fussy. Black cherry tomatoes are deep in color, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and are commonly available.