Beets and goat cheese is a natural combination. Beets and any kind of cheese, I guess. I like my beets smoking hot just out of the oven, but I’ll take them alongside a wedge of fromage.
The problem with pairing cheese with beets is that beets make such a mess, dying everything they touch, that you have to be uncomfortably delicate. I worked in a restaurant-a poorly run and subsequently shuttered one-which served them stacked, napoleon style. To slice the goat cheese, the chef used one of those taut string devices I hadn’t seen since 6th grade pottery when the teacher used it to cut up wet clay.
He lifted and gingerly layered the two so that the beets didn’t dye the cheese. A needless pain in the butt, I thought, but his problem.
Until it became mine, and I found myself working with this oversized length of dental floss, barely resisting the urge to tell him there must be a better way. Years later, I believe I devised an easier method to cut the cheese, as it were. You treat it like pie dough: roll into a disc, wrap, and chill. Remove from the fridge, lay it between two sheets of plastic, and roll thinly. Finally, use a small ring mold to cut circles, which you then chill. Voila.
Of course, you could plate the beets and cheese some other way, but, stacked, they look kind of cool, like a savory candy cane. You still have to watch out for that infernal beet dye: a pair of latex gloves comes in handy, as does a tiny spatula. But, slicing and stacking, I cheerfully thought of those past bosses and teachers who did things the wrong way. All it took was a little goat cheese and a few beets.
Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon
Makes about 4 appetizers
1 large bunch beets
8 oz plain goat cheese, sliced into two pieces, cold
salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Trim the beets, wrap in foil and roast until tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Remove, peel, chill in refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, remove the goat cheese from the fridge. Roll each into a ball and form into a disc, about 6 inches by 1 inch. Return to refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Remove goat cheese, place each between two large sheets of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, roll as you would a pie dough, into a circle, until about 1/16 inch thick. Return to fridge.
- Remove and, using a 2-inch ring mold, cut circles from the cheese and refrigerate. When the beets are cold, slice into equally thin rounds, stack, and use the same mold to cut equivalent small circles. Season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble, set the beet tray next to the tray with the goat cheese and, using a small spatula or butter knife create your napoleon, beet on the bottom. Alternate until you have about two or three slices of each and finish with the beet. Serve garnished with microgreens.