When winter sets in and things get a bit dreary, using seasonal treats like beets can perk up any dinner. With a side dish like this one, keep the main course simple – a grilled lamb chop brushed with olive oil, mixed greens dressed with a blood orange-flavored olive oil and tossed with orange wedges, fresh beans steamed and dressed with lemon-flavored olive oil. Did I mention that using more olive oil is a great New Year’s resolution?
2 lbs. assorted small beets: red, gold, striped
½ thinly sliced small red onion
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced stevia (or purple basil)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (preferably Tahitian)
Preheat oven to 325°. Group beets by color and place each group in separately-wrapped foil packs on baking sheet. Make sure they are very tightly sealed – I even use two layers for best coverage. Bake until tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours, according to freshness. When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. Thinly slice beets and onion and layer on serving platter. Dot with cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients, beginning with the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Add remaining ingredients, and blend into a smooth consistency. Adjust the seasoning with a few drops of vinegar, salt or pepper if necessary. Pour a thin stream over the beets.
Two tips for this recipe: First, if you have any thin, disposable gloves, they are great to wear when handling the beets to protect your hands from the strong dye. Second, if you have a mandolin slicer, use it to slice the beets as thin as possible – think of it as a vegetarian version of “beet carpaccio”!