This is an impressive starter course that tastes great. It’s based on a classic Wolfgang Puck recipe that had several weird (to me), unnecessary aspects that I changed. The combination of beets, goat cheese and hazelnuts is a winner, as is this dish. I serve them on long, narrow white porcelain plates, which looks great.
- 4-5 large red beets
- Herbed Goat Cheese, recipe follows
- microgreens or sprouts of your choice (Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods should carry microgreens, which looks best)
- Hazelnut Vinaigrette, recipe follows
- toasted hazelnuts, roasted, skins removed and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the beets into an oven-proof dish and pour in enough cold water to reach about 1/4 of the way up the sides of the beets. Cover the pan with foil, and roast the beets until they are tender, 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes. To check for doneness, gently insert a skewer into a beet. The skewer should slide through easily. Remove the beets from the pan, allow to cool a bit, and then peel.
Cut each beet into 1/4-inch-thick (can be less) slices, from top to bottom. Cut each slice with a 3-inch round cookie cutter. (You will need 5 rounds for each serving). Save trimmings for another use (like beet soup or salad additions).
After beets are cooked and cut, place on paper towel to absorb some of liquid to reduce the “bleed” into the cheese layers. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To assemble the napoleons, place 1 of the beet rounds on a firm, flat surface and begin to layer. Top with approximately a teaspoon or more of goat cheese, spreading not quite to the edge of beet. Add another beet slice, more cheese, making sure that the final layer is a beet slice. Carefully cut through layers with a very sharp knife, dividing into 4 wedges. Repeat with the remaining beets and cheese.
To serve, arrange 4 of the wedges on a plate. pour a little vinaigrette over each beet tower, letting some puddle around the bottom. Scatter some hazelnuts around the bottom and put some microgreens on the top and a few around the edges. Ideally, serve immediately. However, the napoleans can be made in advance if necessary but be prepared for the beet juice to bleed into the cheese, which doesn’t impact the taste.
Herbed Goat Cheese:
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- at least 10 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
Combine all ingredients. Can be refrigerated until needed, but bring to room temperature (or microwave briefly) to the mixture will spread easily.
- large shallots, minced (1 heaping tablespoon)
- 3 T balsamic vinegar
- 6 T hazelnut oil (La Tourandelle is optimal)
- orange zest – 1+ teas
In a bowl, whisk together the shallots and the other ingredients. A little salt can be added, if desired.