Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beet Carpaccio Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

I love this salad.  It makes a great lunch or starter for dinner.  It's really simple to prepare, and a few steps can be done in advance to make it even easier!  The roasted red pepper dressing on this salad is one of my favorites, but if you are like my friend Natalie and can't eat bell peppers, a simple red wine or balsamic vinegar dressing will work beautifully :)  This salad is delicious but to be honest, my kids don't eat it.  They love feta and pine nuts but I am still working on everything else.  I'll keep putting it in front of them until they like it.  I'm nothing if not persistent!  
I was recently at a school event where one of the Moms speaking to the group mentioned that she didn't have to make dinner that night, which was a bonus.  I can't even express how much I dislike hearing comments like that, but I get it.  Some days I barely get a shower in so I really get it, but that's the reason I created this blog.  I want to help my readers find recipes that they can easily make and their family will enjoy.  So now I'm on a mission…I'm bringing family dinners back (insert Justin Timberlake music).  I want to challenge everyone to make dinner for their family at least twice a week.  And invite friends over to have dinner with you because hospitality is a lost art too!  To quote the greatest chef of all time, Thomas Keller, "When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter what your circumstances."  Cooking for your family is one of the healthiest things you can do, so let's get into the kitchen and start making some dinners!     

I used to shy away from cooking beets but you don't need to…they are super easy.  Just wash, trim, and wrap them in foil.  Place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

Cooking beets is as easy is 1-2-3.  Trim, wrap, and place in the oven.  After the beet are cool enough to handle, the skin just peels right off and they are ready to slice.  

Mason and Gabby just finished their first full week of school.  The beginning of the school year is always bitter sweet for me and I find myself fighting back tears.  I am so happy for their milestones but  sad about how quickly time passes.  I try to enjoy every day…even the ones when I am screaming and pulling my hair out!  And if everything else fails, a glass of wine always warms my heart ;) 

La Recette:

4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
3 medium sized golden beets* (red beets work too if you can find golden), roasted and thinly sliced
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (I like to do this in a toaster oven on medium high for 3-4 minutes.  Keep an eye on them because they can go from light to very dark brown in a second.  You are looking for a light brown).
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 red pepper, roasted and chopped - see my post from the week before about how to roast red peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon good quality maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sumac**
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Chefs Knife
Measuring cups and spoons
Large bowl
Medium bowl
Blender, Vitamix, or food processor
Mandolin (optional)

-Make the dressing first.  Combine the red wine vinegar, red pepper, garlic, Dijon, maple syrup, sumac, salt and pepper, in a blender, Vitamix (I just bought one and it's incredible), or food processor.  Process until well combined.  With the motor running slowly add in the extra virgin olive oil.  Set aside.
-Pour half the dressing in the bottom of the large bowl.  Put the 4 cups of arugula on top and toss well so the dressing is evenly distributed over the arugula.
-Arrange the dressed arugula on a serving dish.  Layer the beets on top (see the above photos for how to cook the beets).  You can use a Chef's Knife to thinly slice them or I prefer a mandolin.  If you don't have one, a knife is just fine.  A mandolin gets them precisely thin.
-Next layer the tomatoes, pine nuts and feta.  Drizzle the remainder of the dressing over the top.

-Serves 4

*The dressing and the beets can be done ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 week.
**Sumac comes from the berries of a wild bush that grows in most Mediterranean areas.  The berries are dried and crushed to form a purple-redish powder.  It is a staple spice in Israeli cooking and has a rich, tart-lemony flavor.  I love it and I buy mine at Whole Foods.

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