Golden Beet and (Green Bean) Salad

You have to laugh at yourself. You'd cry your eyes out if you didn't.

It's spring, which means beets. For those of you with beet issues, just leave the post now, because I love them in a very prejudiced way and I don't have time for non-believers.

DeCicco's always has beautiful produce and on my last trip they had gorgeous, fat, golden beets, which are my very favorite of all beets. I'd had my eye on this golden beet and green bean salad I pinned from Martha Stewart. I remembered to grab crumbled goat cheese and I swear, I swear I bought two bags of French green beans—one for Easter, and one for the salad.

I must have made both bags on Easter because after I'd roasted the beets and had the water boiling to blanch the beans, I went to the fridge beans. What? Of course there are beans, I bought two bags because I knew I was making this salad! No! No this is not happening!

You know that thing where you search the fridge thoroughly for something you know is there. But it's not. But you keep going back to the fridge and searching again? In weird places like the butter drawer?

So anyway, once I was convinced that there were no beans to be had, I kicked myself around the kitchen a couple times but then the show had to go on. I regrouped by roasting some asparagus and it worked out fine, it was delicious. Just imagine it's very fat green beans, OK?

One other thing: I usually roast beets wrapped in foil, but pressed for time, I cut them into 1" dice and roasted them direct on the baking sheet at 425. This is fine, but in small dice at high temp they will caramelize very quickly, and once you smell burning sugar, it's just a wee bit too late. Jeeps and I ate the really scorched ones and left the pretties for the photo shoot. It's all good really.

Golden Beet and Fat Green Bean Salad

  • 6 large golden beets
  • 6 ounces haricots verts, trimmed and cut in thirds
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot (from 1 shallot)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil, plus small leaves for garnish
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425. Peel and trim beets and cut into 1" dice.

Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread on baking sheet, and roast for 10 minutes. Shake the sheet to redistribute and roast another 10 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. (Alternatively you can wrap the beets in foil and roast for about an hour). Transfer beets to a large bowl.

Cook haricots verts in boiling salted water until bright green and crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to ice-water bath, and drain. Add to beets.

Mix vinegar, shallot, and mustard in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Toss with vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in torn basil and goat cheese. Garnish with basil leaves. I added some pine nuts as well. It's a salad, there are no rules.



Trader Joe's Watermelon Salad

So when you first walk into Trader Joe's, there are, right inside the automatic doors, two big bins of whatever produce is usually on sale. Yesterday it was navel oranges and watermelons. On the chalkboard attached to the watermelon bin, it said, "Watermelon! Delicious in a salad! Try it with peach salsa, basil and gorgonzola cheese!"

And I thought, "Um. OK. I'll do that." I always appreciate direction.

So I bought a watermelon, gorgonzola cheese, and a thing of Joe's peach salsa (which I love anyway). Basil I already had in the garden. And today for lunch, I gave it a try.

And wow!  Hey!  This was a pretty awesome salad.  I love the watermelon and basil together, and the peach salsa gives it a nice kick. To be truthful, I am not a huge gorgonzola fan. I see the point of having the savory counterpart to the sweetness of the fruit, but if I try this again I will use feta cheese instead, and see if that's more in line with my taste. Still, for a summer salad, this one rocked, and went perfectly with the little bit of grilled chicken I had leftover from last night.

Thank you Joe!!

In a Pickle, Part I

I took The New Moosewood Cookbook to bed the other night and—... Yes, may I help you? It was sensational, all right? We are in love.

But anyway, I read through the MC like it was a novel and got really jazzed about a lot of different recipes. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I start getting into yummy slaws, cold salads and pickled things, to be eaten outside with yummy grilled things. Two particular recipes I felt I needed to try right away: Ginger Chick Peas and Pickled Red Onions.

Gingery Marinaded Chick Peas

This calls for dried chick peas, presoaked for 1 1/2 hours. But the Moose does acknowledge that some of us live in the real world, and blessed the use of canned chick peas, drained and rinsed well. I also added my own twist of grated carrot because I tend to think of carrots when ginger is mentioned. Some people think of Mary Ann. Whatever.

Apparently this also tastes best when made a few days ahead, so my batch is chilling out in the fridge and I will have to get back to you over the weekend.

  • 2 cans chick peas, rinsed and drained well
  • (Optional) 4 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 5 to 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tbs lemon juice (I squeezed two lemons)
  • 1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 tbsp finely minced ginger (fresh or from a jar)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp red wine vinegar (I confess this seemed like too much acid with the lemon juice; I left it out.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine everything, mix well, cover tightly and let marinade "practically indefinitely" (I love that!!). Stir from the bottom periodically during marination.

Wild Rice Salad

This salad is made with brown and wild rices, and a medley of vegetables. With beans added it can be the main dish. And it's awesome rolled up in a lettuce leaf. I served it tonight with tuna cakes, which Panda alluded to in a culinary conversation with her friends. They are made exactly like meatballs, but using tuna instead of ground meat. Breadcrumbs, minced onion, chopped parsley, a little parmesan, an egg or even mayonnaise to bind it all.  Form into patties and fry in olive oil until golden brown. Done.

Wild Rice Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice, made according to package directions
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, made according to package directions
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 6 oz red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place all ingredients in bowl and toss well with any vinaigrette of choice.


Chicken Salad Véronique (although I prefer Betty)

Betty. And Ginger. And Moneypenny. Those are my girls. Anyway, I just realized I didn't follow up the Tarragon Chicken post with the Barefoot Contessa's chicken salad for next day's lunch, so here it is. Obviously I skipped the first few steps in the recipe because I was using leftovers. Just goes to show you should always have two extra breasts.

...Never mind.

Ina Garten's Chicken Salad Véronique

  • 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise (the Countess approves of Hellmann's, thank God)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 cup small-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup green grapes, cut in half

Preheat oven to 350

Place chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool

Remove meat from bones and discard along with skin (or if no one is looking, eat the skin. C'mon, who are we kidding here?). Cut the chicken into 3/4 inch dice. Place chicken in a bowl, add mayonnaise, tarragon, celery and grapes. Toss well and salt and pepper to taste.

Bon luncheon, Betty!

Springing Forward

Always fun to put the clocks ahead on a night when you're partying hard. Makes for an exhausting Sunday but I do love the extra hour of daylight.Between hangovers and lost time, we were all hitting the wall around 5:00 tonight. I knew it wasn't going to be anything more strenuous than toasted cheese and tomato soup.

Now, that gap that the spoon is lying across was supposed to be filled with something. See, I was jonesing for something toothsome like a slaw, and DeCicco's had these really cute bunches of easter egg radishes—white, pink, red, purple. I remembered seeing somewhere a recipe for radish-celery slaw. I had celery. I also had a bulb of fennel.

In the spirit of "don't make a lot of what you haven't made before," I sliced thin 4 radishes, and the very interior heart of two bunches of celery, leaves and all. Then half a bulb of fennel, core removed and sliced thin thin thin, then I chopped up some of the fronds as well for flavor. I tossed it all with the 1/2" of vinaigrette that was left in the bottle. It tasted awesome, and I took a small forkful over to Panda.

"Celery-fennel-radish slaw," I said. "What do you think?"

She wrinkled her eyebrows. "Should be creamier, like cole slaw. Can you put some mayo in it?"

Dammit, she was right. I put in a squeeze of mayo and it was totally, completely perfect.

Now, I set the bowl aside on the kitchen counter and went in search of my camera so I could capture this for the blog. When I got back, here's what I found:

Between the two of them, Lovely and Dovely here polished off THE ENTIRE BOWL!! ON CHIPS!! I could barely get in over their shoulders to take a picture of it, and the one I got is very washed out so you can't see the pretty red, pink and purple edges of the radishes.

I was going to file this under "salads" but I guess I'll file it under "appetizers" instead?

The Blood of Oranges

The mere act of buying blood oranges makes you feel ridiculously gourmand. Even if they just sit in the colander and rot, the fact remains that you have them in the house. "What, blood oranges, of course I have some, who doesn't?" 

I am a sucker for this kind of exotic staple. I was making parmesan chicken tonight and found I was in the mood to have a salad on the side. Stacey is always putting blood oranges into interesting salads so I thought I'd make up something without consulting anything.

Unconsulted Salad

  • 1/2 bag of salad mix (mine was a blend of spinach, arugula and other greens)
  • 3-4 blood oranges
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored dried cranberries
  • olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper

I love the idea of oranges in any kind of dish but honestly, peeling and pithing and segmenting them is a pain. I did these sort of grapefruit-style to get little half-segments. At least the color was a novelty, they really are pretty. You get a lot of juice doing this, I just let it all go into the bowl and after I was done I strained the juice into another small bowl.

Toast the pecans in a small skillet over medium-low heat. And babysit them. I once watched an episode of Iron Chef where the challengers scorched the pine nuts not once, not twice, but three times. They lost.

Now, what to do with the juice. I can't give any precise measurements, I just sort of fiddled around whisking it with olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper and at the last minute, a sprinkle of dried basil.

Toss greens, orange segments, cranberries and pecans with the dressing and serve. 

Jeeps was not in a salad mood, so I ate all of it with the parmesan chicken. Yum.