Baby Beet Salad with Ap­ples, Can­died Wal­nuts, and Bal­samic Re­duc­tion

Alternative Medicine - - Quick Nutrition -

When buy­ing beets, choose small, young ones—large, ma­ture beets can have a bit­ter, al­most dirty taste, whereas baby beets have a sweet, more con­cen­trated fla­vor (you can even eat them raw). For this recipe, use a mix of rain­bow baby beets, not just the fa­mil­iar red ones. Not only are golden and candy-stripe beets gor­geous, but each also adds its own fla­vor.

To pre­pare the beets: Pour 8 cups of fil­tered wa­ter into a medium pot and add the thyme, bay leaves, vine­gar, agave, pep­per­corns, and salt. Add the beets and bring the liq­uid to a boil, then re­duce the heat to low and sim­mer un­til the beets are ten­der, 30 to 40 min­utes. To check for done­ness, in­sert a par­ing knife into the cen­ter of a beet; it should slide in with­out any re­sis­tance. Pre­pare an ice bath by fill­ing a large bowl half­way with wa­ter and adding a tray of ice cubes. Drain the beets and trans­fer to the ice bath to cool. Once the beets are com­pletely cool, drain them and rub off the skins with pa­per tow­els. If us­ing red beets, it’s wise to wear rub­ber gloves and put a piece of wax pa­per on your cut­ting board so noth­ing gets stained red! Cut the beets in half or into quar­ters, de­pend­ing on size. Put them in a bowl and re­frig­er­ate un­til chilled. (The beets can be pre­pared a day in ad­vance, cov­ered, and re­frig­er­ated.) To pre­pare the ap­ple: Re­move the stem and halve the ap­ple from top to bot­tom. Us­ing a man­dolin or a very sharp knife, slice the ap­ple length­wise as thin as pos­si­ble; cut each slice in half so you end up with half-moons. Trim the re­main­ing core. To serve: Dip a pas­try brush in the bal­samic re­duc­tion and paint a long stripe along the base of a plat­ter or on each of four in­di­vid­ual plates. Ar­range the beets dec­o­ra­tively on top and nes­tle the ap­ple slices in be­tween them. Top the salad with the can­died wal­nuts, dol­lops of the cheese, and the arugula. Sea­son with salt and pep­per, driz­zle with olive oil, and serve.

4 fresh thyme sprigs 2 bay leaves 2 ta­ble­spoons white bal­samic vine­gar 1 ta­ble­spoon agave nec­tar 1 tea­spoon whole black pep­per­corns 1 tea­spoon kosher salt, plus more for sea­son­ing 16 baby rain­bow beets (golden, red, and candy stripe), about 3 bunches to­tal, about 1½ inches in di­am­e­ter, rinsed and tops trimmed 1 large Granny Smith ap­ple ¼ cup Bal­samic Re­duc­tion (recipe fol­lows) ½ cup Can­died Wal­nuts (recipe fol­lows) ¼ cup ri­cotta cheese ¼ cup mi­cro arugula Freshly ground black pep­per Ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil

Put a large non­stick skil­let over medium heat, add the nuts, and lightly toast them, shak­ing the pan from time to time to pre­vent burn­ing, un­til they smell nutty and are light golden, about 8 min­utes. Sprin­kle the sugar over the nuts and cook, toss­ing, un­til the sugar melts, about 5 min­utes. Add the wa­ter and the cayenne and cook, stir­ring con­stantly, un­til the nuts are caramelize­d and well coated in the sugar syrup, about 5 min­utes. Trans­fer the can­died wal­nuts to a bak­ing sheet lined with a sil­i­cone mat or parch­ment pa­per, mak­ing sure that the pieces are not touch­ing or stick­ing to­gether. Set aside to cool for at least 10 min­utes be­fore serv­ing. Left­over wal­nuts can be kept in an air­tight con­tainer or re­seal­able plas­tic bag for up to 1 week.

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