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Roasted beet salad with raspberry vinaigrette & warm chevre

For the Salad:

7 medium beets, washed and trimmed
Salad oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 log (approx. 6 ounces) chèvre cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, in a shallow bowl
1 ½ cups toasted bread crumbs, in a shallow bowl
6 large croutons made from a baguette
6 cups fresh baby mâche or butter lettuce leaves, washed
½ cup scallions, thinly sliced

For the Vinaigrette:

1 roasted beet
½ cup good quality raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp. roasted garlic (or 1 small clove garlic, minced)
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 ½ cups salad oil

Roast the beets: Place the beets on a large piece of foil on a sheet pan. Brush them generously with salad oil, then sprinkle them all over with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets in their foil and put them (on their sheet pan) into a preheated 400°F oven. Roast the beets 45 minutes to an hour or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove them from oven and let them cool to room temperature. Next, cut away root and leaf ends of the beets and remove outer layer of skin; this usually comes off fairly easily. Slice the beets into 4 or 5 slices each and set aside.

Make the vinaigrette: Place one of the roasted beets into the pitcher of a blender. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pitcher, except the oil. Puree the beet mixture until it is completely smooth. Turn blender on to puree setting and begin adding the oil to the beet mixture in a very thin stream. Continue adding the oil until it is all incorporated. Correct vinaigrette for preferred balance by adding more salt, pepper or sugar as desired.

Prepare the Chèvre: slice the chèvre into 6 even slices. Dip each slice into the olive oil so that both sides are coated. Repeat the dipping process with the bread crumbs and place the coated chèvre onto a foil covered sheet pan. Repeat for remaining slices of chèvre. Place the slices of chèvre into a preheated 350°F oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until completely warmed through.

Put salads together: while chèvre is heating up, toss the salad greens with about ½ cup of the vinaigrette or until nicely coated. Place one cup of greens onto each of six serving plates. Next, arrange the sliced roasted beets onto each plate and place a crouton onto each plate as well. Remove chèvre from oven and place a slice of warmed chèvre onto each salad. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

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