I just can’t walk past a display of fresh baby beets at the market without pausing. They are a huge favorite of mine. If you haven’t tried them it might be because they cost about the same as a bunch of big beets and you might be wanting more bang for your buck! I think they are worth every penny… a case of quality over quantity if there ever was one. If you haven’t tried them you should because they are in a league of their own. Baby beets are lovely, sweet and tender with a delicate flavor. These great characteristics also extend to the tops. As a matter of fact I wouldn’t dream of buying a bunch without also eating the greens. My favorite way to enjoy baby beets is with this warm wilted salad so I can use them in their entirety. Today I am using Chioggio beets (pronounced kee-oh-jee-uh). I love the color and their great flavor, but any variety will do. If you happen to come across some baby beets and the tops are not up to par, you can substitute some spinach or chard, but I hope you hold out for some bunched beets with lush greens. This is the perfect salad for the fall when you start noticing a slight chill in the evening air. You need to serve this salad warm so be prepared for some last minute plating; but don’t worry, it comes together easily and it is worth the last minute dash. Enjoy!
Chioggio Beets with Wilted Greens and Feta
- 4 bunches of baby chioggio beets with tops
- Champagne vinaigrette (see recipe below) *
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 tablespoons crumbled feta
- 4 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 16 pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
- Cut the stems off the beets about ½ inch above the tops of the beets. Wash the tops and set them aside. Wash and scrub the beets well and steam them for about 25-30 minutes, until tender and a sharp knife easily pierces them.
- When cool enough to handle, slip the skin off and trim the tops and bottoms then slice them crosswise into ⅛-1/4 inch rounds. Place in a bowl, and add champagne vinaigrette until they are just lightly coated and set aside.
- Take the reserved tops and remove the stems from the leafy portion, discarding the stems. Slice the leaves into ¼ inch ribbons and rinse well, leaving a little water on the leaves. Since this salad is best served when the greens are still warm, it goes fast from here on out so have all your plates and ingredients close by and ready.
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the greens. Cook until just wilted (about a minute). Divide the greens evenly on the plates.
- Top with some beets and then add the feta before finishing off each salad with a tablespoon of capers and some chopped olives. Drizzle more dressing on top if needed.
- Serve immediately.
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 small shallot, sliced thinly, then chopped
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- Combine the garlic, shallots, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well.
- Slowly add the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking vigorously. By adding the oil slowly, your dressing will “emulsify” and form a smooth velvety dressing that won’t easily separate.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit yourself.