Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022
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Smashed beets with greens, goat cheese and garlic chips

The beauty of beets is not apparent when they’re boiled into tasteless submission. But if they’re cooked in a broth enriched with olive oil and vinegar, then smashed and griddled, their natural sugar content results in a chewy, crunchy, burnt crust and soft, sweet insides.

Scrub the beets well, but don’t peel them — they’re delicious with the skin on.

8 equal-sized red beets, scrubbed and stems trimmed to 1 inch (2.5 cm) (reserve the greens)

½ c. (125 ml) plus 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red-wine vinegar

½ c. (125 ml) plus 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little more for the pan

5 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp. (15ml) coarse salt, plus more for seasoning

freshly ground black pepper

a large handful of beet greens (reserved from above), trimmed, washed and dried

3 c. (750 ml) mixed greens like arugula or spinach

8 oz. (250 g) Bûcheron or similar goat cheese

crispy garlic chips, made with 10 garlic cloves and oil

Put the beets in a large saucepan with ½ cup (125 ml) of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the olive oil, the peppercorns, bay leaves and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and boil gently for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the beets, until they are tender enough to be easily pierced with a knife. Drain.

With the palms of your hands, gently smash the beets one at a time between paper towels (to prevent stains): you want the beets to flatten slightly, but not crumble apart. Use a spatula to transfer the beets to a tray lined with foil (for easier cleanup). Brush with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Brush a chapa (a flat piece of cast iron placed over a fire) or large cast-iron skillet with olive oil and warm over high heat. When it’s hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on the surface, add the smashed beets (you may need to do this in two batches) and cook for 2 minutes on each side, letting them blacken. Transfer the beets to the foil-lined tray and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

To make the vinaigrette, pour the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vinegar into a small bowl and gradually whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons (95 ml) olive oil until emulsified. Season to taste.

To serve, toss the beet greens with the mixed greens and place a mound of greens on each plate. Place the smashed beets alongside and crumble the goat cheese over them. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and scatter with slices of crisp garlic chips (they fry in a matter of seconds in a skillet over the stove). Serves 8.

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