Earlier this year, Mark Bittman of the New York Times had an article advocating NOT pairing beets with goat cheese, a combination that I agree is overdone (although I do like it). When I pulled two baby chioggia beets from my garden, I decided to find some use for them not involving goat cheese, especially since my cheese-averse boyfriend would be present. I came up with this incredibly easy appetizer that nonetheless looks restaurant-fancy.
Sliced Beets with Bacon and Herb Salad
1 small beet per person, preferably chioggia
1 slice bacon per person
Small handful herbs per person, with approx. ratio:
1/3 mint, basil, chicory, and/or other herbs
Vinegar (I used orange champagne vinegar from Trader Joe’s)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Put whole beets into a pot of water and simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes. Use most of this time to go do other things (I cleaned my living room!). When the beets are tender, pull from water and peel off any skin that is loose.
2. Chop bacon slices into lardons (small pieces) and fry. This will be fast because the pieces are small. Let cool on a paper towel.
3. Chop herbs and put into a pile on a plate. Slice beets thin with a mandoline or knife and arrange slices on the pile of herbs. Sprinkle on bacon bits. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, and grind a bit of pepper and salt on top.
And that’s it! You could also play with the ratios and amounts to make it into more of an entree, and it could certainly accomodate other ingredients. Toasted pecans or sunflower seeds would work well. And yes, even some goat cheese would be good, if you’re willing to be très passé in the Times’ judgment. Who knows, maybe in a few years the beet-goat cheese combo will come around again and suddenly be retro chic.