Beet & Goat Cheese Napoleons
When you have pretty, jewel-red beets in front of you on the cutting board, it’s not hard to be inspired. I had just roasted some of the Bull’s Blood beets from our garden, and was admiring their gorgeous color and the cute little curled tails coming off the bottom of the beet root. I didn’t have anything specifically planned for them, so I thought I’d try to make something that would preserve their lovely shape and that endearing tail.
So, this Beet & Goat Cheese Napoleon was born! I sliced the beets and layered them with thin slices of goat cheese, then assembled the stack on a plate so that the beet was upturned, with the curved tail forming an arc over the round beet. I slivered some of the pretty bronzy-purple Bull’s Blood beet leaves, along with some of the green beet leaves we got in our share last week, and mixed those together alongside the beet. We’ve actually gotten quite a few beets out of the garden this year, which I’m thrilled about; here are the remaining Bull’s Blood beets in the ground — I’ll probably get one more harvest out of them.
So then, what to dress the plate with? I decided to go with a balsamic reduction (I really can’t get enough of this with beets) and a chive oil that I made with chives from our garden. If you have a really good, syrupy balsamic vinegar, you could just use that straight…I don’t have any right now in my pantry, so a trick I usually do is to boil some of my thinner, supermarket-bought balsamic vinegar down for a few minutes until it’s a thicker, more concentrated, syrupy consistency. That stuff is good over pretty much anything – I adore it.
I was pretty happy with the results! It was an interesting first course, delicious and lovely colors, and a fun way to show off the beets. I’ll be kind of sad when I pull the last of our beets out of the ground, but I may just try planting another set for a fall harvest. Not sure if it will work, but it’s sure worth a try. : )
Beet & Goat Cheese Napoleons
4 medium beets, greens trimmed off and reserved (leave about 1 inch of stem on the beet)
a 4-ounce log of goat cheese (you may not use it all)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 bunch (a handful) of chives
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the beets on a large rectangle of aluminum foil and fold the sides of the foil up around the beets to form a package. Before you seal the package, put a little bit of water in the bottom of the foil with the beets. Seal the package, place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the chive oil: first, set aside a few chives to chop for garnish. In a blender or food processor, puree the rest of the chives together with the olive oil. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a container (I strain it into a squeeze bottle), pressing on the solids. You won’t use all the chive oil in this recipe, so you can save the remainder in the fridge.
When the beets are done, remove them from the foil and let them cool completely. You can then slip the skins off of the beets: do this carefully, so that you preserve the thin, long tails of the beets. Slice each beet across its diameter into 4 total slices (see pictures above), and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, cut 12 thin slices of goat cheese from the log, and set aside.
Wash and spin dry the beet greens, then stack them (whole) on top of one another. Cut the greens crosswise into slivers, then use your fingers to gently mix the slivers together.
Make the balsamic reduction by placing the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, bringing to a boil, turning down the heat just a bit and simmering until it’s reduced to a thicker, syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it – it goes fast! Set aside in a small dish while you plate the napoleon and greens.
Plate the beets and greens: Divide the slivers of greens among 4 plates, piling them in the corner of each plate. Construct a napoleon on each plate by layering the slices of beets and goat cheese. Begin with a beet slice, top with a goat cheese slice, and continue alternating the remaining 3 beet slices and 2 goat cheese slices, ending the layers with the piece of beet that has the tail attached. Basically, you’re reconstructing the beet, just layering goat cheese in between the slices.
Season the beet napoleon and the greens with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the chive oil and balsamic reduction artfully over the greens and napoleon, sprinkle a few of the chopped remaining chives over the top, and serve.