For a long time I hated beets. I’m sure, no I know, that was because the only ones I had were out of a can. Pickled or Harvard style which is sweet and sour. I’m still not a fan of the Harvard style, but I will eat pickled beets on occasion. It was in a restaurant in Chicago, I don’t remember which one now, where I took a bite of Prince Charming’s beet and goat cheese salad. I had no idea that beets tasted that good! From that moment on, fresh beets have always had a place in my kitchen. Through trial and error I found out that the way I like them best is roasted (but of course). I make them year round, will eat them in salads, warm or cold, just plain on a plate with salt, or in soup. What I wanted was a preparation that would let them be a bit more “center stage” so I hit the inter-webs. I came across several recipes for beet Napoleons and I thought it was a brilliant idea. I wanted to do a little riff of my own so I took my favorite things about the Napoleons I read about and the best parts of my favorite salads and came up with this. Beet Napoleons with fig and goat cheese, drizzled with a lemon mustard vinaigrette. The beets of course are naturally sweet, the fig and goat cheese is creamy and rich, sweet yet with that distinctive goat cheese tang. The lemon mustard vinaigrette give it an acidic boost with enough mustard to balance the sweetness. These would be beautiful as an appetizer, or tiny baby ones would be a lovely amuse bouche. Give them a try!
Choose small to medium size beets, really big ones would make HUGE Napoleons! Wash them, and cut the tops and bottoms off. Wrap them in foil like above and roast them in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. They should give a bit when you squeeze them. Of course if you have tiny beets, you’ll need a shorter time. Let them cool for at least 15 minutes or until you can handle them, and then just gently rub the skin right off! Then cool till room temperature and either slice them horizontally for the Napoleons or store them and refrigerate. You can cook the beets up to 2 days ahead for this recipe, but I wouldn’t go farther than that.
To 4 oz. of goat cheese, add 2 heaping teaspoons of fig preserves and stir to incorporate the two and make sure it’s smooth and creamy. If there are pieces of fig, that’s fine, don’t worry. When you slice the beets, keep them in order so you can stack them up without a problem. Starting with the bottom slice, put a 1/2 teaspoon or so in the middle of the beet and spread to the edge. Continue with all the slices, stacking them as you go, until you reach the top. I put a small dab on the topmost slice because of the funny shape of that beet, it was looking like a Christmas tree to me! The 4 oz of goat cheese spread will make about 5 small/medium size beets, so if you have lots of little ones or have more to do than 5, obviously increase the amount you use. Drizzle them with the lemon mustard vinaigrette. You might want to place them on the plate before the drizzle, especially if you’re serving them individually as an appetizer.
Lemon Mustard Vinaigarette
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of honey
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Put the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk together, then add the olive oil in a steady stream and mix until thick and completely incorporated. Taste, add salt and pepper. This will keep for a week in the refrigerator. I put mine in plastic container with a lid and then give it a good shake before using it. It has never broken on me.