Friday, July 4, 2014

Baked Beets with Vinaigrette Dressing

Lovely golden and red beets from Big Lick Farm

Baked Beets with Vinaigrette and Chives
Serves 4 to 6

This is how I serve beets most often. They're delicious warm, at room temperature, or cold. Leftovers, straight from the refrigerator, make a nice addition to a green salad. Golden beets and red beets are lovely served side by side, but you must bake and dress them separately to keep the colors from mingling. This recipe was inspired by one in the fabulous little cookbook Fresh From the Farmers' Market by Janet Fletcher.

1 1/2 pounds beets
1 recipe Basic Vinaigrette, omitting pepper
fresh chives for garnishing, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the beets well and trim off all but ½ inch of the stems. Place in a shallow baking dish, add ¼ cup of water, cover tightly with a lid or foil and bake for 35 to 45 minutes (longer if beets are large) until just tender when pierced with a cake tester or sharp knife. Remove from oven and let stand, uncovered, until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette.

Slip the skins off the beets under warm, running water. Small beets can be quartered. Larger beets should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in a medium bowl, add the dressing, and toss gently. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and garnish with snipped chives.

A Basic Vinaigrette

A Basic Vinaigrette
Makes about ½ cup

The simplest vinaigrette is made with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It can be varied by using different types of oil (walnut or hazelnut, for example) or vinegar (white wine, red wine, sherry, berry, balsamic, herb, etc.), by substituting lemon juice for the vinegar, or by adding Dijon mustard, garlic, shallots and/or herbs. Classic proportions are three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice, but you can adjust this, along with the salt and pepper, to suit your taste.

2 tablespoons vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Measure the vinegar and salt into a small bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid. Whisk in the oil until thoroughly combined or shake vigorously in the jar. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and additional salt, if needed. Use immediately. Any leftover vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days and brought to room temperature before whisking or shaking to recombine.

Potato Salad Vinaigrette

Potato Salad Vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6.

This recipe is adapted from one in my well-worn copy of Martha Stewart's classic first book, Entertaining. My brother, Dave, (the one I used to bake pies for) gave it to me as a college graduation gift. I love this potato salad served warm on a bed of lettuce. Always a hit, it's an easy do-ahead dish for potlucks and picnics. Make it the night before and chill. The next day, let it come to room temperature on the way to your event. Give it a gentle stir to redistribute the dressing before serving. Be sure to eat it within a couple hours.

2 pounds small new potatoes, preferably about 1-inch in diameter
4 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Country Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch finely minced green onion
1 tablespoon dried dill weed

Scrub the potatoes well, but do not peel. Cover with 1 inch of water and boil gently, just until tender when pierced with a cake tester or sharp knife. Small potatoes will take about 8-10 minutes, larger ones 12-15. Drain, let cool slightly, then cut into quarters or halves if they are very small. Pour the white wine (not the vinegar) over the potatoes and toss gently.

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, oil, onion, and dill together and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour over the potatoes and toss gently. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.