A week ago we received our weekly shipment of local farm fresh produce from a local farm delivery service. My wife and I went out of town for the Memorial Day holiday and as such, we weren’t able to use everything sent last week. So, when we arrived back home late Monday night, we had farm fresh beets waiting for us. I usually simply roast beets until caramelized and then season with herbs, etc. However, I wasn’t in the mood for the same old thing. So I decided to try something new. I simply peeled the beets, ran them through the thinnest level of a mandolin, and pickled them for 24 hours in a concoction that I basically made up. There was no cooking involved. The beets here are raw, though the pickling softened and flavored them. They did, however, maintain a slight crunchiness and the earthiness of the raw vegetable still came through, though slightly muted. They tasted sweet and sour with hints of heat and onion, and imparted a faint anise taste from the fresh tarragon. I’m calling this a version of Carpaccio due to the fact that the beets remain uncooked and the circular appearance of the slices mimic how beef Carpaccio is typically presented.
The beets are paired with a farm fresh arugula salad dressed simply with salt, pepper, and olive oil. The whole thing is accented with dollops of goat cheese and a few pumpkin seeds, which add a creaminess and crunch respectively.
This dish requires some forethought as it takes a full 24 hours to pickle the beets prior to serving. Otherwise, you simply slice vegetables, make the pickling liquid seasonings, and plate at the end.
For the pickling liquid:
1 Cup of white distilled vinegar
1 Cup of simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar. Bring water to boil, add sugar and stir until completely incorporated, then allow to cool.)
4 Tablespoons fresh tarragon
1 Shallot thinly sliced
4 Tablespoon kosher salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
For the Beets:
3 to 4 fresh beets
For Arugula Salad:
½ bunch of fresh arugula
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
A few dollops of Goat Cheese (amount to taste)
A Sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds (or you could use roasted pistachios)
• Combine cup of vinegar and cup of simple syrup and mix together. Thinly slice a shallot and add to liquid mixture. Add salt, red pepper flakes, and tarragon and mix again. Set aside.
• Take beets and peel with vegetable peeler. Take a mandolin and place on the thinnest slicing setting. Run the beets through the mandolin. Set aside in bowl and lightly salt with kosher salt. Toss to coat. (Alternately, slice the beets as thinly as you can get them. If you go this route, you may have to pickle them longer than the 24 hours depending on just how thick the slices are and how they taste to you. Use your best judgment and instincts in this case).
• Place seasoned sliced beets in the pickling liquid and place in Mason jar and seal or a bowl with an airtight lid. Place in refrigerator for approximately 24 hours.
• Around 24 hours later, remove beets from jar, place in colander and allow to drain in the sink or into a bowl for around 30 minutes. Remove the tarragon and shallot from the beets. Discard the accumulated liquid if placed in a bowl or rinse sink completely as beet liquid will stain.
• On a large plate, arrange the beets in circular fashion, with one slice overlapping another until the entire plate is filled with circular patterns of the beet slices.
• Dress the arugula with the extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Mound the salad in the middle of the plate over the beets, piling the arugula as high as you can.
• Take the goat cheese and break into little pieces or dollops and place sporadically into the salad and add a couple dollops on the beets themselves.
• Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top of everything. Go lightly on this as it simply adds a bit of crunch for texture and a bit of contrasted color for the presentation.
• Serve immediately.