Beet Towers with Farmers Cheese and Oranges

May 8th, 2008  |  Published in All, Beets, Cheese, Delectable Dairy, Fantastic Fruits, Orange, Veritable Vegetables, Weeknight Recipes  |  19 Comments

Beet Tower

Beet Towers with Farmers Cheese and Oranges

2 medium beets, washed, greens removed
1 small orange (Cara-cara are my favorites)
~ 2-4 T. farmers cheese or good quality ricotta
Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Wrap beets in a foil packet and roast for about 1 hour, or until beets are tender and can be easily pierced with a knife. Carefully open foil packets and allow to cool (this can be done up to a day in advance).

When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins and trim top of beet so that it is a flat surface. Place the beets on their sides and slice into 1/3 inch or so slices, keeping the slices in order.

Cut the bottom and top off the orange, then peel using a serrated knife to cut away the peel and all of the white pith. Cut the orange into thin slices — count the number of beet slices that you have, then cut that many orange slices, minus two.

Place the bottom slice of one beet on a plate or small cutting board. Take about 1-1.5 t. farmers cheese and spread it evenly over beet slice. Top with orange slice. Sprinkle the layer with a small amount of pepper. Place the next beet slice on top of the orange, and repeat layering process — beet, cheese. orange, pepper — until you’ve used the whole beet. Repeat to assemble second tower.

Makes 2 towers

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Ah, beets. My trusty standby — ready to be prepared and enjoyed in the same old ordinary way (roasted, plain), yet always willing to be a player in my latest experimental recipe. It’s hard not to appreciate a vegetable that is so bold, yet so flexible.

This latest beet creation, oddly enough, came out of the fact that I both 1) love ricotta cheese and 2) am extremely picky about it. I was at the Milk Pail Market the other day, a european style open-air grocery in Mountain View, CA that has a fantastic and diverse cheese selection, and I, as always, checked the cheeses to see if they had started carrying any other ricotta than the factory produced kind. Every time I go there, I check for good ricotta, and alas, every time I check, I am disappointed (though I regularly put in written and verbal requests for Bellwether Farmers ricotta). Anyhow, this check/disappointment cycle has been going on for nearly a year now (since I started shopping there), so I decided that instead of just sulking, I would see if there were any other options, namely a good farmers cheese or quark. Much to my delight, the Milk Pail does carry a hand-packed artisan farmers cheese, which is very similar to ricotta, except slightly drier.

Farmer’s cheese is very mild, with a slightly grainy texture. It’s great for spreading on breads, using in pastas, mixing with herbs — basically anywhere you would use ricotta, you can substitute farmer’s cheese. Both texturally and taste-wise, it goes extremely well with beets and other roasted vegetables. It is mild enough to allow the vegetable flavor to shine through, and at the same time, the contrast of soft roasted vegetable and textured grainy cheese is wonderful.

But back to the recipe — the most time consuming part of this recipe is actually roasting the beets; once that is done, the towers come together in a few short minutes. I served mine at room temperature, though they would also be delicious if you popped them in a medium oven for a few minutes (10 minutes at 325 or so) to warm everything. Also, roasting the beets can been done up to 2 days in advance, but do not assemble the towers until close to the time you are ready to served them, as the crimson beets will stain the cheese and oranges a fiery pink.

Anyhow, as you might have guessed from the blog title, beets are my favorite vegetable, and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. Do you have any ideas? Also, what’s your favorite vegetable, and how do you like to prepare it?

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