Braised Beets with Arugula and Ricotta Salata

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 240 minutes
Servings: 6

Using a slow cooker to cook beets brings out their natural sweetness, which in this recipe is heightened by the addition of orange juice and zest. Topping the tender beets with peppery arugula and a scattering of salty ricotta salata delivers a robust contrast to the sweetness. Serve with roasted chicken or pan-fried pork chops for a satisfying autumnal meal.

Ingredients:

  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) fresh orange juice
  • 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 lb. (1.5 kg) orange, yellow or red beets, peeled and sliced 1/3 inch (9 mm) thick
  • 4 cups (4 oz./125 g) baby arugula
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 lb. (125 g) ricotta salata cheese


For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a slow cooker, stir together the orange zest and juice, vinegar, thyme sprigs, 1/4 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Add the beets and stir to coat them with the liquid. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, stirring once or twice if possible to redistribute the liquid. The beets should be tender but not falling apart.

Shortly before the beets are done, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, orange zest and juice, 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk in the oil until emulsified. Set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a serving platter. Discard the braising liquid. In a bowl, combine the arugula and shallot and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat lightly. Arrange the arugula over the beets. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the ricotta salata over the top. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker (Weldon Owen, 2010)

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