October 25, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese

This weekend flew quickly, as do most these days. I spent it biking around town from market to market, enjoying the late harvest crops of the year. Soon, the air will become brisk and the rain drops will fall by the plenty. I will no longer feel the need to leave my warm nest and will resort to netflix for my entertainment. I wish it wasn't so, but I do become a hermit in the winter. As the days become shorter, I find myself at a loss for words when the sun sets at 4:00 pm. During the long winter months, I can't help but look forward to spending the dreary afternoons in warm and inviting coffee shops, sipping my latte and enjoying a novel or two. Baths and red wine become a ritual, as do the stories that Hollywood has ever so kindly created for me.

I once spent 4 weeks straight watching all six seasons of Lost. I was so obsessed with the character and the plot, it was all I could talk about for months. Each night, after finishing an episode or four, I would lay in my bed creating stories about the characters and recreating scenes, and as soon as I would drift off I was instantly transformed into a character who would become tangled in a sea of lies and unknowns. When I get that involved in a TV series my dreams become so vivid, that most mornings I awake, not really sure where I am, stranded on an island or trying to get back.

Mr. H is a big fan of The Wire. I am about to embark upon that journey, but am a little worried about the outcomes. I'm not sure how I feel about having my dreams set in Baltimore with Bubs and Omar,  drugs and crime. I'm not sure it's any worse than the scandalous affairs on the show Mad Men, which is my recent obsession. I find myself sympathizing with Betty Draper, admiring Peggy Olsen, and disgusted yet intrigued with Donald Draper. Call me crazy, but I love TV and movies. I love the stories, and the characters, the action and the drama.

If you know me well, then you are certain that I love stories. As long as I can remember, I've been intrigued and fascinated by people who could tell them. Not everyone can tell a good story you know. It takes a lot of passion, enthusiasm, excitement, and maybe a lie or too to make things more interesting. Stories need to to capture your attention with words, sounds, facial expressions hand gestures. My grandfather is an exceptional story teller, and I'd like to hope that one day my grand children will think I am as well.

I can remember the giggles I had when my grandfather's hands started flying in the air, tiny beads of saliva spraying out the corner of his mouth. His eyebrows jumping up and down and his forehead scrunching like the ripples in an ocean. He was very enthusiastic about his stories, almost as enthusiastic as my grandmother was about her pickled beets. When my grandmother canned, we would have beets for years. I rarely cook with beets. My only childhood memories are eating then as an accompaniment to an already full meal on Christmas or Thanksgiving. I do remember being remarkably confused when my urine turned a suspicious pink. I was sure my life was coming to an end, but my mother reassured me that this was a perfectly normal phenomenon.

Lately, it appears that the local markets are well stocked with an array of colorful beets. I picked up a bunch of beautiful dark red ones a few days ago, and was highly determined to not let their fate end in a vat of vinegar and salt.  These beets would not be served as a side, like so many fancy pickles. I wanted these beets to be the lead character, so I roasted them with some olive oil, which brought out their flavorful earthiness, and then peeled off their skins with my fingers. I paired them with a few simple ingredients: arugula, goat cheese, and cashews. The resulting salad was divine, so many interesting textures, colors, and flavors. The earthiness of the beets paired wonderfully with the pepperiness of the arugula, the creaminess of the goat cheese, and the salty crunch of the cashews. This salad is so simple and elegant, perfect as a starter, or equally at home as a main with a side of bread and a glass of wine.

serves 4

4 - 5 medium beets
4 - 5 cups of baby arugula
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of salt and pepper
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 oz fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup cashews, unsalted
1 tbsp liquid honey

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Wash the beets with a scrub brush and then cut off the ends. Place the beets on a piece of tin foil and drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Make a pouch around the beets and seal. Place on a a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes or until soft. You should be able to insert a fork with ease.

Once the beets have cooked, remove from the oven and let cool, roughly 10 minutes. Once the beets have cooled, remove the outer skin with your hands. Cut the beets into quarters and place in a bowl. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk 1 tbsp olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Pour over the beets and let marinate for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, gently toss the arugula with 1 tbsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Grab a small bunch with your hands and plate gently into a small pile. Top with some of the quartered beets, crumbled goat cheese, cashews, and then drizzle honey on top.


  1. as I read this post, I feel that you are great story teller and you will be like your grand father and looking forward for more interesting entry like this.

  2. I am terrible at telling stories. My friends tend to stare at me for thirty seconds after I'm finished, then ask, "what's the point?" Then I think about it and realize there really wasn't one. However, I love me some beets and arugula. I'll have the put the two together and make this magic salad!

  3. Frankie, I'm sure your stories are great!