beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts + cranberries

20 July, 2012 § Leave a comment

I used to hate salad. I mean, hated it. Wouldn’t go near the stuff. Nowadays, salad and I are becoming better acquainted, and this particular one is my not-so-new borderline best friend.

Beet salad is an unoriginal idea, I’ll admit. But if I told you that this particular beet salad is inspired by Sahale Snacks’ delicious Valdosta pecans and that it pleases even picky salad eaters, I must have done something right, right? You have to understand that this is a little nerve-wracking as it is the first recipe of my own to go up on my blog.

I prefer no-nonsense, 100% pure baby spinach for this salad, but I’m sure you more adventurous herbivores could make use of many other greens with great success. The beauty of this beet salad is in its versatility–there are a lot of interchangeable parts, which I love as I don’t always have every single ingredient on hand. That being said, the recipe below lists my most-loved, most-portable version. Feel free to tweak the measurements to your preference and let me know how it turns out! There’s only one thing I ask: don’t make this as a side salad. This is meant to be a big, green stuff-your-face-with-it salad that can only be tackled with a large fork and a larger appetite.

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts + Cranberries Serves one

Baby spinach (depending on how leafy you like your salads)
1-2 large baby beets
Scant 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Black pepper, preferably freshly ground
8 walnut halves, preferably raw
2 tablespoons goat cheese
Balsamic glaze or vinegar

Transfer desired amount of baby spinach to container you plan to eat your salad from. Add baby beets sliced into 1/2-inch cubes or strips, whichever you prefer. Pepper the cranberries generously (trust me on this one) and add, making sure the pepper sticks. Add walnuts in odd pieces, breaking them with your fingers. Cut desired amount of goat cheese off a log and crumble in. Drizzle with balsamic glaze or vinegar, mixing with a fork as you go to ensure that all ingredients as well as the glaze is incorporated–leave no leaf behind.

Enjoy!

Notes & Product Recommendations
The measurements and ingredients above are, as in most salads, completely tweak-able. Pecans would be fine in place of walnuts (though I would toast them, so you don’t miss the crunch.) I never found the need to toast the walnuts; they lend appropriate crunch without it. The pepper brings out the cranberries’ flavor, a trick I learned from the Valdosta pecans mentioned above. In fact, if ou can find the Valdostas, you could sub those in for both the walnuts and cranberries, they’re just less cost-efficient. Normal beets would work just as well, I just choose to use baby beets as they’re easy to work with–the same reason why I use a log of chèvre–and occasionally come in fun flavors (I highly recommend all Love Beets products, if you can get them). Now, for my last recommendation (promise!), Blaze. I think this is carried in most grocery stores. It literally changed my life–it has the texture of delicious, fine quality aged Italian balsamic without the $$$ price tag. Plus, its packaging makes it a snap to use. Apparently there is a range of Blaze flavors as well, but I’m a simple girl when it comes to salad dressing.

three cheese tomato tart + pizza

12 July, 2012 § Leave a comment

Image from The Kitchn

When someone asks you to make something again, it’s a good sign. When someone straight up begs you to satiate their craving for something–ladies and gentlemen, you’ve got a winner.

That’s what happened with this cheesy tomato tart. Originally, I made the tart above exactly according to The Kitchn’s recipe, minus the basil. The other night, however, when my boyfriend was hankering for said tart and I wanted a salad (which I will also get to posting), I decided to make a personal pizza version and it came out–dare I say it–even better.

The tweaks I made were mainly minor measurement adjustments; still, the original recipe for the tart can be found here.

Behold, the reason why I prefer not to use my own photographs

A few minutes after this shot was taken, I barely needed to wash the plate before I returned it to the cupboard where it came from. This is also a good sign.

Three Cheese Tomato Pizza Serves one
Adapted from The Kitchn

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1-2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
Scant 1/2 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
Scant 1/2 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
Shredded parmesan cheese, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lay out the tomato slices on a large sheet of paper towels. If you plan on using the design above, you’ll need seven. Cover with more paper towels and allow to drain for approximately 30 minutes (this is crucial to not getting a watery tart). Meanwhile, remove the sheet of puff pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes. Knead the pastry dough a little as it thaws.

Transfer the puff pastry onto a floured surface. Roll the pastry dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick all over, working it into a circle as you go. Transfer the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet . If you like a slightly puffy, chewy crust, move on to the next step. For a thinner, crispier crust, poke holes in the dough all over with a fork.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the puff pastry, leaving room to hold the crust. Sprinkle evenly with shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Arrange the tomato slices over the cheese. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle generously (or to your preference) with shredded parmesan  and garnish with whatever you like (I chose a little more freshly ground pepper.)

Bake for 24-28 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted and starting to brown on top. Slice with a pizza slicer or a sharp knife and serve immediately.

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