In return for the many love and effort-filled meals that my mother has procured for family over the years, I decided a good Mother’s Day gift would be a healthily tasty–or tastily healthy–meal that we could savor and receive a gust of natural energy from. Beets were in the fridge and I remembered a recipe from a wonderful French cookbook (excellent gift)–Swinging French Jazz Bistro Favorite Parisian Bistro Recipes.
To be honest, beets were not my biggest allurers in the vegetable inventory, but I thought “Why not?” and why not was right! Here are some health incentives that will appeal to logos (your sense of logic) and then I’ll move on to the taste bud attraction. First of all, beets are very nutritious, yet low-calorie, bundles of sweetness. Having this sweet taste, they provide us with surges of energy and are fortunately very easy and very cheap! They can be bought for about $2 a pound and don’t even need to be cooked. An un-beet-able source of magnesium, calcium, iron, phospherous, fiber, and Vitamins A & C, beets also contain folic acid (pivotal for health of pregnant women) which is important for the creation and maintenance of new cells. (Give up those supplements and let nature be the one to supply you!) And, of course, the color of beets isn’t only a feast for the eyes but also for the health of our bodies. Betacyanin, which gives beets their striking red, is said to fight cancer, especially that of the colon.
So without further ado, let’s give the tongue a turn or two. The recipe is called “Roast Beet and Mâche Salad with Haricots Verts, Leeks, and Walnut Vinaigrette” and I have copied it from the Bistro cookbook (for which there is a link above!) along with my own pictures.
4 or 5 beets, depending on how large they are 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 4 fresh thyme sprigs (or powdered thyme) 4 ounces (125g) haricots verts or baby Blue Lake green beans (I actually used asparagus), chopped into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
-For the Vinaigrette- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60mL) sherry wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar) 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3/4 cup (6fl. oz./180mL) grapeseed or canola oil 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60mL) cold-pressed walnut oil (I just used regular walnut oil) Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 leeks, white part only (I used the white part of Vidalia onions) 4 ounces (125g) mâche (lamb’s lettuce) or frisée (curly endive) (I just used lettuce 🙂 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped and toasted (I prefer a handful which I toast on a pan with a little bit of oil – yumm!) 4 ounces (125g) goat cheese, cut into slivers (I say put as much or little as you like)
Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C). In a large bowl, toss the beets with the oil. Separately wrap each beet and a sprig of thyme in a square of aluminum foil. (Or you can sprinkle the beet with powdered thyme – a little easier) Roast in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife. Unwrap and let cool.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the green beans for 5 to 10 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Using a slotted spoon or a wire-mesh skimmer (spoon with holes), transfer the beans to a bowl of cold water. Drain and set aside. In the boiling bean water, cook the leeks for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and let cool.
To make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar and mustard together. Gradually whisk in the oils until emulsified (completely mixed). Season with salt and pepper.
Peel the beets. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice the beets and arrange the slices to cover 4 salad plates. Brush the beets with vinaigrette. (This part makes you feel really sophisticated!) In 2 medium bowls, toss the green beans and leeks separately with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the green beans on top of the beets and top them with a mound of leeks.
Add bouquet of lettuce in the center. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and garnish with slivers of goat cheese. Serve and savor!
P.S. For me, there was a good amount of vinaigrette left over because it is only used for brushing and soaking (of the dish ingredients), so make sure to use it for a salad afterwards.