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Give Me a Beet!

Chef Kevin Johnson; raw beet salad with citrus and pistachios; chef Johnson holds beets on Ambrose Family Farm. Photographs (3) by Ruta Elvikyte

February 20, 2013

Give Me a Beet!
Chef Kevin Johnson shares recipes for this sweet winter root veggie

Great news: contrary to childhood memory, beets are no longer purple cubes canned in a viscous sauce (thank goodness!). Instead, local chefs such as The Grocery’s Kevin Johnson are transforming the versatile root vegetables into stunning salads, soups, and sides. “Beets offer a sweetness that is a great contrast to the more bitter vegetables we have during the cooler months,” Johnson says. And to prove his point, we asked him to come up with three different beet recipes for our February Chef’s Table. Suffice it to say, we weren’t disappointed.

Johnson created a vibrant salad of baby beets; a savory side dish of beets and greens enriched with sherry vinegar and blue cheese; and a golden beet soup surrounding a petite scallop salad. The chef recommends that when buying beets to note “that they should have their greens intact and look fresh enough to eat. If buying large beets without greens, they should be dense, heavy for their size, and without any holes or soft spots.” Ready to give them a try? Get started with that baby beet salad we mentioned complete with citrus and pistachios.

Raw Beet Salad with Citrus & Pistachios
(Serves 4)

1 Ruby Red grapefruit
2 navel oranges
1 shallot, minced
2 tsp. minced chives or scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 baby beets, no bigger than a Ping-Pong ball, preferably of varying colors
About 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, crushed
3 oz. ricotta salata cheese
2 big handfuls baby arugula

Peel the citrus fruit, removing any white pith. Supreme, or cut out the segments, reserving the membranes. Squeeze the juice from membranes into a bowl. Discard membranes. Combine the juice with the shallot, chives, garlic, vinegar, and tarragon. Whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Using a vegetable brush, scrub the beets clean with water. Shave them as thin as you can, preferably with a mandolin, maintaining whole slices. Place the slices in a bowl and gently dress them with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat them.

Cut citrus segments in half and arrange them on four salad plates. Scatter shaved beet slices on each, then some pistachios. Shave a few pieces of the cheese and place on top of each.

Dress arugula with the remaining vinaigrette and place a small amount on each plate. Serve immediately.

To read the full Chef’s Table feature, including Johnson’s other two recipes, click here.

For more recipes, click here.

Wed, 02/20/2013