This week I will be featuring a couple of recipes that can be either eaten as gruel de la semaine or served as a component of a fancier meal, depending on how you roll.
Let's start with beets, which may be ugly (frightening, in fact) on the outside, but when roasted and peeled are not only pretty but delicious, perfect for a dinner party. They also have a long shelf life, perfect for a week in my fridge. This roasted beet salad has a secret ingredient: almond butter, a smear of which on the bottom of the plate transforms a somewhat common salad into something quite special, a salty, sweet, savory, addictive first course suitable for guests, or for lunch alone in pajamas. Because even slothful people deserve something special for lunch, don't we?
No, seriously. Don't we?
Roasted Beet Salad With Almond Butter and Gorgonzola
adapted from this recipe, which appeared in Gourmet
½ cup toasted, slivered almonds
½ garlic clove, chopped
pinch of cayenne
¼ cup + 2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 or 6 medium-to-large beets
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Gorgonzola or blue cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off all but ~½ inch of beet tops and carefully scrub beets. Wrap each beet in tin foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to 1½ hours, or until you can slice through the beets easily with a sharp knife. If the size is not uniform, beets may not all be done at the same time, so pull them out as they're ready. When they're cooked, peel off the foil, let them cool, then peel and cut them into ½-inch wedges.
2. While beets are roasting, grind almonds to a paste with garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and cayenne in a food processor. With motor running, add just enough oil to make a silky paste.
3. Whisk together vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl, then whisk in oil. Add shallot and chives and toss some of the dressing with the beets (I used about half with my six medium beets—plenty to coat the beets and then some. Lightly dress arugula with remaining dressing.
4. Smear a spoonful of almond butter on the bottom of your (or your guests') plate(s), top with beets, arrange a dainty little circle of arugula around the edge, and sprinkle with blue cheese.