Hello everybody... how's your Saturday night going? Mine's a little tame this time, but no worries. I think maybe I'll flip through a couple cookbooks or click around on my favorite recipe sites (Epicurious and Food Network) and find something good to cook for dinner tonight. Mark's caught a bit of a cold, so maybe I'll try to heal him with a delicious, hot, home-cooked meal.
Speaking of cooking for Mark, here we have yet another course from the infamous V-day dinner: the Beet Salad with Almond Butter and Gorgonzola. This was the first course and we both liked it. I myself wasn't quite sure about the flavors of the very-sharp and bold Gorgonzola with the fresh and bright taste of the beet salad. However, the beet salad DID taste good with the homemade almond butter. Next time I would leave out the Gorgonzola (yes, I just said hold the cheese... I'm going to go take my temperature).
So how did I make this? Well...
First you want to cook the beets. You could use canned beets for this salad and save a TON of time, but I decided to go as much "from scratch" as I could for this dinner. I think the texture is a bit better when you use fresh beets and I have to imagine it's probably a bit healthier because it hasn't been processed at all, but canned beets really would work fine if you're pressed for time.
Simmer the beets in a covered pot with 3 inches of boiling water until they are fork tender. This takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your beets. These mamas were huge, so they took a while to cook.
While the beets are cooking away, go ahead and make your vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, a 1/2 teaspoon salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Once those ingredients are combined, add the shallots and chives.
Next, go ahead and make your almond butter. Now one thing I ALWAYS have on hand is almonds, and not just ANY almonds, but SMOKEHOUSE ALMONDS. Yeah, baby... oh yeah... These suckers are SO GOOD with a cold bottle of beer! Wooh! But, this dish called for plain blanched almonds, so rather than buying more almonds at the store, Mark suggested I blanch the smokehouse almonds and remove their skins. He's so smart...
So that's just what I did. I threw a 1/2 cup of smokehouse almonds into some boiling water and boiled them for a few minutes. I then transferred the almonds into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. The skins instantly started to shrivel. Then, using a paper towel, I literally just popped off each and every skin until I had a pile of lovely naked little almonds. Hey, it's Saturday night people... I'm feelin' a little frisky.
Ok ok... back to the recipe...
Combine the almonds, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in a food processor. Grind them to a paste.
Then with the motor running, add just enough oil to make a silky paste. Season with salt to taste.
Once your beets are tender, remove them from the pot and cut them in half. Check these beauties out... I mean they must be the prettiest vegetable around, don't ya think?
The next thing you'll want to do is remove the skins from the beets. I used a paper towel and kind of just rubbed off the skins and used a small paring knife when I needed to. Once the beets have been skinned, then cut them into bite-sized cubes and let them cool.
Once they've cooled, toss them with the vinaigrette.
To plate, put a shallow pool of creamy almond butter on the plate first, then pile the beet salad on top, allowing some of the butter to show around the edges. Garnish with minced chives and a small ball of creamy Gorgonzola cheese. Bon appetit!
Beet Salad with Almond Butter and Gorgonzola
Gourmet Magazine | October 2007
For almond butter
1/2 cup toasted Marcona almonds
1/2 garlic clove, chopped
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 to 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
For beet salad
1 1/2 lb small (2-inch) beets without greens (2 lb with greens)
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Make almond butter:
Grind almonds to a paste with garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in a food processor. With motor running, add just enough oil to make a silky paste. Season with salt.
Make beet salad:
Simmer beets in 3 inches of water in a large saucepan, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Cool in liquid, uncovered, about 30 minutes, then peel and cut into 1/2-inch wedges.
Whisk together vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, then whisk in oil. Add shallot and chives and toss with beets.
Divide almond butter among 6 plates and top with beet salad.