The Beets That Mother Gives You | Honey-Roasted Chioggia Beets on Mustard Greens with Goat Cheese, Crispy Shallots, & Walnut-Thyme Crunch
When I hit a writing block, I narrow my eyes toward the world, try to crop out the big picture, and find a detail, a single specificity, on which to focus. It might be a person’s movement, like the way my acupuncturist widens her stance and grounds her feet before reading my pulses. I have found poems in the negative shapes made by steam on a shower curtain or in the knots of a wood-paneled wall—a lone buffalo, a face in agony, a trickster in a hat. Characters for stories emerge from the expressions on strangers’ foreheads.
As it turns out, cooking isn’t all that different. When I sliced into a Chioggia beet for the first time, the Wonka-esque swirl of pink and white inspired me to make a dish more focused on details than the simple seasonal dishes I turn out for a weeknight dinner typically would. With a psychedelic root sliced up on my cutting board, how could I resist a little experimentation? Which is not to say that I have gone psychotropic, molecular gastronomical, or even all that outside of any box. Instead, I improvised a recipe that layered details into a stack without taking up too much of my evening or requiring a trip to a store for anything I didn’t already have on hand. Oooh, trippy.
Honey-Roasted Chioggia Beets on Mustard Greens with Goat Cheese, Crispy Shallots, & Walnut-Thyme Crunch
3 medium sized Chioggia beets, peeled if desired, sliced into thick medallions
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 bunch mustard greens, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil (use the leftover oil in which the shallots were crisped)
1 clove garlic
olive oil to thickly cover a small pot
2 medium shallots, sliced into rings, patted dry with a paper towel
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, finely chopped
2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
2 ounces soft goat cheese, sliced into medallions or crumbled
To roast the beets, heat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking dish with foil, and lay the beet slices in the bottom. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and use your hands to coat both sides of each beet medallion. Cover with foil, and roast in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes, flipping the medallions halfway through.
To crisp the shallots, pour enough olive oil into a small saucepan to thickly coat the bottom. Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the shallots, standing back as they splatter, and stir a few times until they are dark brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer from the oil with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Reserve the leftover oil.
To make the walnut-thyme crunch, toast the walnuts in a 350˚F oven for 7–10 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool. Chop the walnuts and thyme together until they are the consistency of granulated sugar, or use a food processor.
To prepare the mustard greens, heat about a tablespoon of the oil in which the shallots were crisped in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mustard greens, stirring with tongs as they wilt. Add salt and a tablespoon or two of water or stock, and braise the mustard greens until the stems are soft and the leaves are dark green, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and leave on the heat for another minute.
To assemble, lay a bed of the mustard greens on the bottom of a plate. Top with a few overlapping beet medallions. Place a slice or a few crumbles of goat cheese over the beets. Finish with the shallots and the walnut dust.