You Can Beat These Beets, Despite My Beautiful Presentation

I went to Whole Foods yesterday with a goal in mind: Heirloom tomatoes. I knew they sold them at the farmer’s market but it was late and I knew Whole Foods (which is way closer) carried them too. So I went there with the Barefoot Contessa’s heirloom tomato salad recipe in mind (tomatoes, fennel, an orange for the vinaigrette) and arrived to find the grossest looking tomatoes ever. Now I know heirlooms can be funny looking, but these look scarred and some were split open and there were tiny bugs flitting around them. It was quite the unappetizing table.

I made an executive decision then and there to buy something else. Earlier that day, I’d had lunch with Patty (you’ll read about that shortly) so I wasn’t that hungry. I wanted something light for dinner, hence my heirloom agenda. So as I examined the produce I stumbled upon the beet section and I said to myself, “Adam, you’ve never made beets, maybe this is your moment.” I remembered that beets and goat cheese were a killer combination and I also remembered reading a recipe for beets and tarragon in some cookbook. So that’s what I bought: beets, tarragon and goat cheese.

I used the Gourmet technique for roasting beets. After having done it, I don’t recommend it, but it might be praised for its simplicty. You just wrap each beet (after trimming them) in a double layer of foil and put it on a baking sheet.

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You bake at 400 degrees for either 1 1/4 hours or 1 1/2 depending on if you can stick a knife through it or not. That was the fun part. It’s like stabbing a person because it bleeds:

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Not that I want to stab a person or anything.

After that you let them cool in the foil pouches for another half hour—the steam loosens the skin. Then you unwrap and rub with paper towels and get rid of the skin. That was pretty easy but it makes your fingers red.

Here’s what they look like all done:

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Very pretty, better than canned beets, surely. But the flavor was severly lacking. Now that I’ve read a few more recipes, I see that the beets are best coated in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before wrapped. Or other recipes have you peel them first and roast them open in a pan. Whichever technique you use, I recommend you think about flavor infusion during the roasting because it makes a difference.

So as you can see in the above pic, I chopped up some tarragon and tossed the beets (which I sliced) with olive oil, red wine vinegar, some tarragon, salt and pepper. Very nice.

Then for the goat cheese. I bought Coach Farm goat cheese because everyone’s always like, “Yo, Adam, buy Coach Farm goat cheese! It’s the best!”

That may be true but I didn’t like this kind of goat cheese. Maybe I bought a special weird kind that had a hard outer edge and a soft middle. I prefer the whole log to be creamy. But I sliced it like the beets and made this gorgeous presentation:

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At least I think it’s gorgeous. I just wish it tasted better. I mean it didn’t taste bad, but it didn’t taste as good as it should have. I had a baguette along with it and I was glad for that. And a glass of wine. That helped too.

Now imagine I just posted that final picture with no text, you’d think I had a winner there, wouldn’t you? Let that be our lesson for today. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

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6 comments

  1. That type of goat cheese is the most prevalent type of goat cheese I found while living in France. Personally, I really love it, because not only do you have the three textures in one log, but the rind will “age” and take on some Camembert-like characteristics. So I suppose the enjoyment also depends on how much you like Camembert.

    Actually, even better than those little logs was a gigantic goat cheese log I found in a small produce shop and which I know you can buy at Whole Foods, too (at least in California). It’s about the diameter of a large grapefruit, with the same three layers, and the inside is super creamy and tangy and flowery and YUM.

    I was quite disoriented when I came home and had to get used to the all-mooshy goat cheese again.

    (Shameless plug – check out my URL for a fabulous salsa recipe that I just posted and am currently eating. Mmm.)

  2. I like to pre-slice and marinate the beets before roasting. Olive oil, shallot, garlic, s&p. Mix around few times while baking to keep moist. Then toss with a little sherry vin, lemon, parsley, other herbs, more olive, touch of cinnamon or nutmeg if you like.

    Any standard quality chevere works well. Nice to have a very smooth texture next to the beets.

    I also roast walnuts and top off with those. es beautiful and delicious.

    Thought you should know.

  3. I had the same experience with the tomatoes at Whole Foods last week, even though I live in a different city!

  4. Growing up, you were in Big Trouble and were being punished if you saw pickled beets on your plate.

    I never, ever tasted them, but chose to sit stubbornly at the table like a brunette Christina Crawford.

    A few of my mothers Melmac plates had pickled beet stains on them.

    ****shudder*****

  5. I like to buy the already roasted and peeled beets from Trader Joes, saves lots of time and energy. And the Barefoot Contessa says to peel them with a veggie peeler before roasting. Just found your blog, and loved it!

  6. In my country, we usually eat them sweet. You can find sweet boiled beets in the streets during cold winter time.

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