Roasted Beets with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts

I’m mildly obsessed with Picnic, the shop for Foodies on Phinney Ridge.  I posted about them a month (?) ago, boasting of the joyful food and great merchandise.  So now I’m a regular and I come with friends.

A few of us (Marko, Ashley and Jeff) dined one afternoon over Seafair weekend.  We expected to go in for a snack, but after a seat, a glass of wine and plates to share, we decided to make it more of a meal.  We nibbled and talked, reliving the night before with laughs and eye-rolls.  Suddenly we all looked at empty dishes and Marko said, “Anyone want to go up on a cheese plate?”

“Yes.”  We were all down.

Last weekend I called Jeff after my Saturday Zumba class with George, wondering if he was in the mood for lunch.

“Ya that could work,” he said.

“I was thinking Picnic..?”

“Oh my God, yes.  I have thought about them three times this week.  Think they’ll have the beet salad?” he asked.

Obviously I had no idea, but I certainly hoped they did.  Forty five minutes later, we met at Picnic’s store front.  They had one portion of the beets left, which we agreed to split.  While we waited for the food, I chatted with Anson and Jenny, the owners.  Once you meet these lovely people, you’ll understand why they are successful.  They take their time with everyone, know people by name and truly seem to enjoy supplying the neighborhood with honest food and delightful treats.  On top of it all, they are commited to supporting the small entrepreneur, from cookie maker to food blogger.

I’m looking into making pickled jams this summer and asked Jenny about pickling cherries.  She promptly presented me with a nibble from a jar that was open and recommended a few jams of choice.  All this was done while she whipped up a corn and chorizo salad for the service case.  You can’t not love it here.

It was a rather nice-ish Seattle day, so we took our loot to-go and happily walked to a lookout with our… picnic.

Jeff asked if I could recreate the beet salad and I hope that’s what I’ve done.  Picnic uses fresh tarragon in their version, which I recommend, but didn’t have in the fridge.

Serves 4:

2 large or 3 medium sized beets
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (chives, mint, parsley or tarragon)
3 tablespoons blue cheese, such as Point Reyes Original Blue from CA
2 tablespoons roasted hazelnuts, also called filberts

Foodie Note: Hit the bulk section for hazelnuts and dried thyme.  You can probably get already roasted nuts at Trader Joes, but you’ll have to buy a whole bag.

Toast your nuts:

Raw
Roasted

Warm hazelnuts in a dry skillet on medium-low until skins begin to crack and nuts become fragrant, about 10-12 minutes.  Let cool.  To remove skins, roll a few at a time between your hands.  Most of the skin will come off, no big deal if there’s still some left.

Put into a bag and gently smash with a pan.  I used a measuring cup, which worked great.

On to the beets:
Preheat oven to 450*F.  Wash beets, slice top and bottom ends.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin, cut into slices about 1″ thick.  Grease a jelly-roll pan, add beet slices, balsamic, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.  Gently toss, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, until a fork easily pierces beet.  Cool to room temperature.

Finish it off:
Plate beets, garnish with fresh herbs, hazelnuts and blue cheese.  Grind a few cracks of pepper and serve.

Find Picnic at http://www.picnicseattle.com

Keywords: Picnic Phinney Ridge, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, beet salad, Zumba George: Fit Monkey

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