Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Farm to Table Roasted Beet Salad with Lavender Honey Goat Cheese, Tangerines and Marcona Almond Brittle

With all the dining out we've been doing lately, reporting on restaurants and events for Wine & Dine San Diego, along with food photography for some local restaurants, I can't help but be inspired by the chefs we've met along the way. Many obtain fresh produce from local farms, and many of those same farms sell to the public at the farmers' markets. 

Leroy's Kitchen + Lounge Beet Salad

We made it to Little Italy Mercato this past Saturday, hoping to find a few things for Mother's Day dinner. We came home with artichokes, basil, tangerines, Suzie's Farm beets and Nicolau Farms' lavender honey goat cheese. When selling goat cheese at the Farmers' Market, the key is choosing the right guy for the job.

Nicolau Farms Goat Cheese at Little Italy Mercato

Inspired by Leroy's Kitchen Local Beets Salad, made with Bûcheron (a goat's milk cheese native to the Loire Valley in France), spicy almond brittle, and watercress, drizzled with lavender vinaigrette, I was able to recreate a similar salad at home (although I didn't have the pretty pink and deep ruby colored beets). I roasted and peeled the beets, cut them into wedges, and paired them with creamy goat cheese, sweet tangerine supremes, crunchy Marcona almond brittle, baby basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.

Farm to Table Roasted Beet Salad with Lavender Honey Goat Cheese

Following our farm to table beet salad (which I could eat every day for the rest of my life), we enjoyed grilled salmon, and grilled artichokes with basil green goddess dressing for dipping the tender and smoky leaves (the green goddess dressing also tasted wonderful with the salmon). The grilled artichokes were inspired by Peohe's Island Grilled Artichokes, discovered during our recent Wine & Dine San Diego assignment to sample and feature Coronado's best happy hours. You can read the article and see all of the photos here: Happy Hour Bites and Sips Abound in Coronado.

Peohe's Island Grilled Artichokes

I don't have a "recipe" for the Farm to Table Roasted Beet Salad, but you should plan on 1-1 1/2 medium beets/person. Roast the beets and prepare the almond brittle according the directions below. I then supremed a couple tangerines, and made a balsamic vinaigrette (3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper, whisked together). To plate the salad, I arranged the beets on salad plates, followed by a few tangerine supremes, crumbled goat cheese, pieces of almond brittle, baby basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.

Roasted Beets:

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops. Wrap completely in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers. Cut into wedges and arrange on salad plates.

Marcona Almond Brittle:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup Marcona almonds

Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil or nonstick spray, or line with a silpat, and set aside. Combine the sugar and water in a medium nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until a dark amber color. Remove from the heat and stir in the almonds . Carefully pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and let harden at room temperature. Coarsely chop, and store in an airtight container.

Marcona Almond Brittle

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