Roasted Beet Appetizer with Gorgonzola and Pickled Red Onions
A vibrant vegetarian way to start a meal, this recipe combines tender roasted beet cubes with tangy pickled onions and gorgonzola cheese. Add a bit of pistachio for crunch and your meal is off to a memorable start!
I'm trying a new tactic to encourage my family to eat the beets from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share--small plates. I'm sure it's old hat to many folks, but it's a new idea for me. I mixed up a batch of this roasted beet appetizer and, instead of having folks help themselves like I usually do, I put a couple of tablespoons each into a few of my Polish pottery ramekins. These are the perfect size for a snack of trail mix of cheez its [though if you're having the Extra Toasty kind those things are like CRACK and you'll actually burn some calories jumping up off the couch to refill your little dish every few minutes]. If you've got little dishes that hold about 4 ounces (half a cup), and less adventurous eaters--give this method a try.
When I get beets in the farm share, I quickly perform Vegetable Triage on them. I cut off the greens first, if they are present. I constantly crave Sautéed Beet Greens and make that for breakfast/brunch whenever I have access to beet greens. Once the greens are removed, the beets can hang out in the crisper drawer for at least a week. This is a Good Thing when you're overwhelmed with life and aren't really prioritizing using up the fresh produce. If you've got space, you can even freeze roasted beets for several months. They come out very soft, so freeze them whole and handle gently if you'd like them to retain a cube shape. If you do plan to mash them, say, to make Cocoa Beet Chocolate Chip Muffins, then you'll be just fine with freezing/thawing roasted beets.
I got the idea for this starter during a rare lunch out with my spouse. After copious deployments eating in DFACs in Iraq and Afghanistan he really prefers not to eat out in loud, crowded places so we tend to eat at home. A lot. It's a bummer for me because I like to try new foods, but that's what my girls are for, no? Anyway, since I was out with my honey for a rare lunch date I decided to make the most of it and get the roasted beet starter. Topped with blue cheese and pecans, it was delightful. [Meadowlark restaurant, Dayton folks. I've also enjoyed the sister restaurant, Wheatpenny. Great lunch places--I've never tried dinner there.]
For more recipes using beets, please see my Beet Recipes Collection. It's part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share, the farmer's market, the garden, the neighbor's garden, and great deals on ugly produce at the grocery store.
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Note: this recipe takes moments to assemble, but 2 of the 6 ingredients take some 'hands off' time to prepare. I recommend roasted the beets and preparing the pickled onions whenever you have a free hour, and assembling the appetizer just before you're ready to eat.
Roasted Beet Appetizer with Gorgonzola and Pickled Red Onions (serves 4-6)
4 to 5 medium beets, roasted (see directions below)
½ teaspoon salt (I use kosher) plus more to taste
½ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
¼ cup pickled red onions (half of this batch)
¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup chopped pistachios (optional)
- To roast the beets, place trimmed (unpeeled) beets in a couple of layers of foil. Add a splash of water or oil if you like. Seal the foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour to 90 minutes, until tender. I don't bother preheating the oven for these. Once the beets have cooled a bit, slip off the skins. Now you're ready. This step can be done several days ahead. Store the beets in the fridge until you're ready to use them.
- Chop beets into bite-sized cubes and toss with salt and pepper. Place onto small serving dishes.
- Top with pickled red onions and gorgonzola cheese. Add pistachios if you like (I did after the photo, they provide a nice crunch and color contrast).
- Serve. Pat yourself on the back because you got the family to eat beets in a gentle manner.