Beet Carpaccio Salad with Goat Cheese, Proscuitto, and Candied Walnuts

Isn’t it ironic that the most delicious, comforting foods can look ugly in photographs. while cold, bland dishes appear stunning? (I checked to make sure that I am using the word “ironic” correctly, especially after watching Weird Al’s music video this week). We live in a world where it can’t be true that you ate good food unless you got a good picture. I can be reluctant to post certain recipes on this blog because they look unimpressive in my pictures.

I’m not going to dwell on these facts, because today I have a recipe for you that is delicious for the eyes and the mouth. Hooray!
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When you receive something as visually lively as red and white candy cane beets in your farm share, you have to show them off. If you have one red beet leftover from the previous week, even better! Throw in some salt, some sugar, and some fresh herbs, and some creamy and crunchy texture, and you have a delightful dish.

Beet Carpaccio Salad with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, and Candied Walnuts
Inspired by this, this, and this

About 3 medium-large beets, of various colors – such as 1 red and 2 Chioggia
For the dressing:
1 Tablespoon of fresh basil
, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon red onion
or shallot, minced
juice from 1 lemon
5 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

To top it off:
about 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
, to taste
about 2 teaspoons capers, to taste
1 piece of proscuitto, chopped into bite-sized pieces, to taste
about 3 Tablespoons candied walnuts, chopped (see below for instructions), to taste

You can roast the beets and glaze the walnuts for this recipe the day or even days before, which eases the pressure of completing it for dinner guests.

Burnt edges but still edible!

Burnt edges but still edible!

I thought I would take a shortcut and use a microwave method for combining the sugar and walnuts. Not a good idea–even at 2 minute intervals, they started burning and sticking before they were supposed to be done. As a result, I don’t advise following this recipe. Anyway, I used 1 Cup walnut halves and 1/3 Cup sugar plus 2 Tablespoons of water. Using these quantities and caramelizing on the stovetop with a little more water would probably be fine. Once they are coated in melted sugar, pour onto a sheet to cool. Transfer to an airtight container and use for any and all salads. Or snacking.

For roasting the beets, heat the oven to 350F. Trim the beets before roasting.
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Wrap in an aluminum foil packet with a little sprinkle of water. Place on a roasting pan and cook until tender when pierced with a fork (check at 45 minutes). Once done and cool, they should be easy to peel.

The chioggia beets remind me of a beautiful sunset...

The chioggia beets remind me of a beautiful sunset…

Slice the beets thinly and layer on a white dish, alternating colors.
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Prepare the dressing ingredients: lemon, basil, onion, and olive oil.
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You could add a pinch of sugar or a drop of honey if you want more sweetness.

Drizzle dressing evenly over the beets.
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Top with crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, prosciutto slices, and capers.
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The assembled salad keeps well and develops more flavor in the refrigerator.
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Because it looks so beautiful, you won’t hesitate to reach for any leftovers!

Harvest Muffins

Time to get grating.
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Last week was as big one for the CSA harvest, plus I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of things at a farmer’s market I was passing, so it has been a busy time of cooking and eating and trying to keep up. No ordering lunch for this gal! It has been delicious though. There was a modified sweet potato shepherd’s pie made using leftover barbecue pulled pork my sister made for a family function and sent me home with. I made scallion pancakes, butternut squash parsley penne, and slightly spicy coconut chicken bok choy soup, the latter of which went really well with an ice cold lager beer home alone watching Dancing with the Stars (I’ve accepted my occasional loneliness while my husband has volunteer fire department responsibilities).

When it looked like my meals were already covered for the rest of the week, I knew I had to take precautions against food spoilage. Fortunately Melissa Clark came to my aid. Well, SHE didn’t actually COME to my side and counsel me, but how cool would it be for her make a video in my kitchen? I came across her harvest muffin recipe.

This recipe reminds me a little bit of the sourdough carrot cake recipe from August, which led me to King Arthur Flour’s “Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake” recipe. Muffins are easier, since they can be individually frozen and thawed as desired.
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Harvest Muffins
From The New York Times

1 1/8 Cups (140 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 Cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 Cup (70 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 small apple
, grated, and juices reserved (1/2 cup)
1/2 Cup grated carrots (or butternut squash or parsnips)
1/2 Cup grated beets (or zucchini)
1/3 Cup (55 grams) raisins
1/2 Cup (40 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut

A note on the inclusion of grams on the ingredient list above–it is a true a time saver to be able to use the kitchen scale instead of pulling out the different measuring cups and leveling them off.
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins, either mini or regular. Prepare ingredients:

I ended up using a little more than 1/2 Cup of the carrots and beets.

I ended up using a little more than 1/2 Cup of the carrots and beets.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

To a large bowl, add the grated apple and juices and grated vegetables, eggs, olive oil, honey, and brown sugar.
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Combine.

Lovely!

Lovely!


Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the raisins and coconut.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way up.

It is hard to tell what is 3/4 of the way filled. These muffins aren't huge risers, so it wasn't a problem.

It is hard to tell what is 3/4 of the way filled. These muffins aren’t huge risers, so it wasn’t a problem.


Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes for mini-muffins and about 20 to 22 minutes for regular muffins.
8 minutes in--we're halfway there!

8 minutes in–we’re halfway there!


When an inserted toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are ready to be enjoyed.
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I know you’re wondering–the answer is yes, the muffins do taste a little like beets. You get the beet flavor when you first take a bite, but then it fades into the straightforward sweet taste you would find in any zucchini, apple, or banana bread. I will be enjoying these now until Thanksgiving!

It’s Burger Season!

Who doesn’t love a burger?

I may be misleading you with the title of this post, because what I will be featuring is a veggie burger. But this veggie burger is one of the best I have ever tasted.

I found the burger on Pinterest, drawn to this picture:

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The author described the original burger, which was discovered at a well-known vegetarian restaurant, as quite burger-like, vegetarian or not!

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I’m particularly proud of how my version turned out because I truly improvised on this one. The recipe called for approximately one onion. We all know that onions vary widely in size, so that kind of recipe instruction bothers me. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but a lot of times new or hesitant cooks would appreciate more precision. To represent that onion in this recipe, I used about 3/4 of a cup of “stuff”: a little bit of yellow onion, a little bit of leftover chopped red onion I had (from a recipe that actually stipulated the number of tablespoons), and—-chopped swiss chard stems! Swiss chard came in my share last week and I had yet to fully utilize it. I used a few leaves as a substitute for spinach in a blue cheese, sundried tomato, and greens sourdough bread I made in the bread maker the day before, and I saved the stems.
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If you’re not familiar with swiss chard, I would say that it has more of an earthy flavor than other greens. I’m sure it has some similarities with beet greens (which could also be used here, if you have beets with the full tops!).
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Beet and Bean Burgers
Adapted from theKitchn’s recipe inspired by the veggie burgers at Northstar Cafe in Columbus, Ohio
makes about 4 medium burgers

1/4 cup brown rice (doubled if you like more rice-they say it makes a crispier burger)
3/4 cup of some combination of onion (red, yellow, white, or even green) and swiss chard stem, diced small
About 8 ounces of beets, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced (to taste…at least 2 tsp for me)
1 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 can black beans (about 3/4 cup), drained and rinsed
1/2 juice from 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
, minced
2+ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste

cheese (optional) – provolone, monterey jack, or cheddar

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a handful of salt and the rice, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice until it is no longer al dente. You want it a little over-cooked. This will take at least 40 minutes, depending on your rice. Drain the rice and set it aside.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and swiss chard mixture, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the onions are translucent and softened.

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So pretty!

Stir in the beets. Cover the pot and cook until the beets are completely tender, stirring occasionally. Give it at least five minutes and then taste for tenderness.
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Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan using the cider vinegar.

Empty the black beans into a large bowl and use a fork to mash them up a bit. Add the cooked rice, the beet and onion mixture, the lemon juice, the olive oil, and all the spices. Stir to combine.
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Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the flour and stir. I needed to add a little extra flour for keeping the mix together, and it still fell apart a bit. Reviewers on the recipe’s webpage mentioned using rolled oats as a binder as well.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over the highest heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until it flows easily and shimmers.

Using your hands, form about a cup of the burger mixture into a patty between your palms. (Get ready to have horror-flick gory hands). Set it in the hot pan. Continue shaping and adding as many patties are you are making at one time and add to pan as they fit. Reduce heat.

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What’s wrong with this picture? Answer: not enough oil in the pan.

Note: the recipe says that the burgers are best eaten immediately. The mix can be kept in the fridge for a few days if you want to save it and make additional burgers at another time. I formed a few burgers and stuck them in the freezer–I’ll let you know if they hold up.

Cook the patties for 2 minutes, working to get a nice crust, then flip to the other side. If you’re adding cheese, lay a slice over the burgers now. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes.

Serve the veggie burgers on a toasted english muffin, burger buns or sandwich bread.

Seriously, this was so delicious.

Seriously, this was so delicious.

OK, OK, I know you want to see some meat. Here’s the burger I consumed at a friend’s house a few days later, made by our own Chef Chris Davila:

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The picture is blurry, but I’m sure you can see how it was cooked wonderfully medium rare.

He ground his own beef and used a combination of short ribs, sirloin, and flank steak. The recipe was from Saveur magazine’s June/July 2013 issue: Ultimate Grilled Cheeseburger. Special sauce and all.

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Happy burger season!

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