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Cooking for one: An ode to beets, with a whiff of goat cheese

March 21, 2006

I have always had a thing for red, for the deepest, plummy reds. And when it comes to red, beets are one of the most lavish, well-turned vegetables on the table. To me, they are simply unparalleled by crispy celery, bright carrot, or pleasant squash. Even the scarlet tomato looks a little orange, next to a beet.

But I had small inclination towards beets until recently - the extent of my association being the canned jelly substance turned out into a bowl now and then, especially around holidays to keep the ribbed cranberry sauce company. And the ubiquitous beet and goat cheese combination? Not ubiquitous to me. Just this year, in the course of my kitchen wanderings, I took a chance on a roasted beet and goat cheese salad for the first time.


I found that when you take a pan of roasted beets out of the oven, and peel back the foil, their red juice has bled out a little, seeping into the pan and clouding the yellow oil with pools of scarlet stains. Then you take them in your hands, between mitts of paper towels, and quickly rub the papery skins off and leave them naked and purple, with stains all over your fingers. When you chop these and mix them with a pungent goat cheese, and then smear this soft, sweet, tangy mixture all through bitter greens - with a healthy dash of spicy peppercorns - well, as probably everyone else but me knows by now, it's astonishing. The warm and tender beets leaving pink stains on my bowl, the tangy goat cheese and spicy greens underneath - this was good. It was very good.

And ever since then I have been on the hunt for other recipes with this oh-so-classic-for-the-right-reasons combination. So when I came across this recipe for a beet and goat cheese tart, with the inspired addition of some meaty walnuts, I was gung-ho. Try it - it's excellent. I added the stalks and the greens as well, cooked with onions, so the final product is really more of a baked beet and greens cake, held together loosely by melted cheese and custard, with crunchy walnuts and spicy parsley on the top.

Quiches and their ilk are great in cooking for one; they can do double-duty as breakfast and supper, just substitute a clementine for a green salad and a glass of wine. They wrap up nicely for a quick lunch at the office, and this one stayed fresh for five days in my fridge. I was sorry to see the last of it go.


Crustless Beet & Goat Cheese Tart

4 small beets, along with their stalks and greens, washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Wash the beets and dry them with a paper towel. Place the beets in a small ovenproof pan, drizzle them with the olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Allow the beets to cool. Peel the beets using a small knife and cut them into a medium dice.

2. Meanwhile, while the beets are roasting, chop the stalks into 1-inch pieces and cut the greens into short ribbons. Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with a little salt, and cook, stirring every few minutes. Add the beet stalks and cook until they and the onion are just tender, about 7 minutes. Add the greens and sauté until soft and wilted. Season with cracked pepper. Add the white wine and cook for another minute, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

3. Heat the oven to 350°F and butter a 9-inch springform pan. Toss the chopped beets and onion mixture together and put them into the prepared pan. Whisk together the eggs and cream, season well with salt and pepper, and carefully pour over the beets and onion, letting the cream seep evenly into the beets. Dot the goat cheese all over the top of the tart. Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top of the tart. Return the tart to the oven and bake until just set, an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle the tart with the chopped parsley and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving

(Adapted from Gordon Hamersley's recipe at Leite's Culinaria, a most excellent site.)

Posted by Faith at 21 March 2006

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Hi Faith! I love the photos you have on your blog. Looking forward to reading more...

Posted by: Cin at March 22, 2006 02:20 AM

heya faith!
my mom introduced me to one of the most fantabulous uses of roasted beets ever
and get this, its a pasta!
bascially, you roast the beets, puree them with cream and then toss some butterfly pasta in the whole mix and garnish with TONS of cheese, black pepper and freshly chiffonaded mint
it's too complicated to go into here, but if you happen to run by the Strand, pick up Diane Seed's "Top 100 Pasta Sauces" the book from which the recipe came, they always have it there for cheap!

Posted by: ann at March 28, 2006 01:05 PM

Thanks Cin! I really appreciate it!

Ann, that sounds wonderful! I will check it out...

Posted by: faith at March 28, 2006 01:47 PM


YES! YES yes YES YES yes yes YES YES YES!!!!

OH MY GOODNESS YES YES YES YES YES yes yes yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh man oh man OH MY GOD.

Ok, I've calmed down now.

No, you really can't understand how much I want to leave work early, stop by the grocery store and run home to make this. We share a love of beets, but this recipe? Man oh man.


So glad you left me a comment so I could find this. Yum and such a delicious blog!

Posted by: matt at April 12, 2006 03:45 PM

Delicious beet recipe. I am a true (old) beet lover as well ;-) I found you via Matt and see, what a nice surprise as I agree with Matt, great lovely blog.

I am about to post about another beet recipe as a matter of fact, and had this one before, amongst others!


Posted by: Bea at La Tartine Gourmande at April 12, 2006 05:43 PM

Matt, Matt, thank you so much - I thought I loved beets, but you, mister, are on a plane above. Truly, another level. Enjoy the tart - I ommitted (for pleasantly intersecting reasons of health and laziness) any crust - the original uses a pastry crust which I think is just unnecessary.

I've never made ravioli, Bea. I am pretty new at all this here, and fresh pasta is one thing I haven't attempted yet. When I do, your beet ravioli is up first! So pretty...

Posted by: faith at April 12, 2006 06:01 PM

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