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Roasted Beets with Orange and Herbed Goat Cheese

A trio of fresh herbs accents the tangy flavor of soft goat cheese. Dollops of the mixture nicely offset a salad of just-harvested beets, whose earthiness becomes even more intense when roasted in a hot oven. The beet juices are blended with tart fresh orange juice to form a colorful dressing to bring all of the tastes together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange
  • 6 beets, about 1 1/2 lb. total, in assorted colors, greens removed
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Finely grate the zest from the orange and set aside. Halve the orange and place one half in a baking dish just large enough to hold it and the beets in a single layer. Add the beets and drizzle with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the garlic cloves, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast until the beets are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, chives, parsley, tarragon and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Refrigerate until serving.

Remove the beets from the oven and let cool. Using the dull side of a paring knife, gently scrape off the beet skins, then cut the beets into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices on a platter. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Line a strainer with a damp paper towel and place over a bowl. Pour the cooking liquid through the strainer and squeeze the roasted orange half to release any juice. Whisk in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the juice from the remaining orange half to make a dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Let the dressing cool to room temperature.

Drizzle the beets lightly with the dressing, then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Top the beets with small spoonfuls of the herbed goat cheese, garnish with the orange zest and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).