Season's first beets are here! I find beets somewhat challenging to prepare, since roasting (and maybe grilling) is the only way to do it right, and it does take an age. (Actually it's not so much the time as the fact that you never know how long it'll take.) Once you're done, you sort of want there to be more to it than a bunch of, well, edible root veg.
Not to knock the old beets-with-butter side dish, which is after all a classic for a reason (it's not just the butter, either), but this time I wanted to go for another classic combo: beets, walnuts and blue cheese. The last time I went for this pairing, it was in somewhat unorthodox empanadas, but that's just too fussy for a weeknight in summer, so I turned to the trusty Epicurious for some salad hints. The dressing is, erm, less-than-beautiful (this is what comes of reading a recipe, thinking "yeah, I'll remember what to do" and then... not remembering what to do), but very tasty!
Beet, Blue Cheese & Walnut Salad
adapted from The Figs Table by Todd English and Sally Sampson
5 medium-sized beets, with stems trimmed to an inch or so of the root, scrubbed clean
1 tbsp or so of olive oil
a handful of walnuts
a few tbsp fresh chopped herbs; I used mint and basil
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tbsp olive oil
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
80 g (about 3 oz) blue cheese (I used Roquefort)
a few tbsp light cream
Rub the beets with a bit of olive oil, wrap tightly in tin foil and roast at 200°C (400°F) for about 40-50 minutes, until tender. Let cool for a while, then rub the skin off and cut into strips/slices/whatever. Mix in walnuts and herbs and season with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. (If your salad isn't all wilted and sad, toss some in, too - the original used arugula.)
Sautée the chopped walnuts in the olive oil and set aside. Whizz together cheese and cream in a food processor until smooth, add the cooled walnuts and the onion and run the blender for a while longer. Add more cream if it's too solid and more cheese if it's runny. Serve with the beets.