03 August 2010

Seasonal Recipe: Wine Poached Beet Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Aged Chèvre & Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

Photo by Blake Van Roekel

Recipe by Blake Van Roekel, Chef Instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Portland

Serves 8

Summer is the time of so much bounty, including, for me, a huge excess of lettuce and greens from my garden. In an effort to utilize the extra 18 heads of lettuce that I somehow convince myself to plant every spring, I have been making A LOT of salads.

Walnuts, lettuce, eggs and beets can all be purchased at the Farmers Market. Poaching beets in wine is so simple, and is a welcome addition to other methods of preparing them. Tender, young beets work best..

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup walnut oil
1 T champagne vinegar
Salt to taste (approximately a rounded 1/4 tsp)

To make the vinaigrette, whisk the egg yolk in a bowl. Gradually add the walnut oil in a steady stream. With the oil incorporated into the egg yolk and slightly emulsified (but not thick like a mayonnaise), add the vinegar and salt. Can be refrigerated and used within 3 days.

1 bunch of beets (approximately 3-4 beets)
2 cups dry white wine
1 head lettuce
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 lb chèvre, preferably aged and firm
Edible flowers for garnish (nasturtiums, pansies, calendula, borage . . . )
Finishing salt (I like the Maldon salt which can be found at The Meadow)

Peel and quarter the beets. Cover them with wine in a pan on the stove, and simmer for 30 minutes covered. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes, reducing the wine and cooking the beets until tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the beets from the wine and let cool. Continue to reduce the wine until it forms a thick syrup (but watch it closely towards the end as it can easily burn). Slice the beets and toss them in the syrup.

To toast the walnuts, put them in a dry skillet on low to medium heat. Once they begin to release their oil and gain color, remove from heat and let cool.

Shave the cheese into thin slices.

Assemble the salad on individual plates with the lettuce, beets, walnuts and cheese. Drizzle with the dressing. Garnish with flower petals and sprinkle with finishing salt.

(Visit Blake’s blog, Keuken, to read more about her culinary adventures.)