It breaks my heart that the beet, that exquisitely magenta root vegetable, sweet, earthy, unspeakably delicious, is hated by millions. Poor beets. I blame it on those pickled beets that appear in buffet salad bar lineups. Don't get me wrong, pickled beets can be okay, but if you've never had a roasted beet, then you've never had a beet.
To keep this unloved, but lovely, root vegetable from having the Valentine's blues, I invited it to dinner. Meet the Beet and Goat Cheese Tart.
Two of these stunning pink tarts accompanied me to our Bible study dinner last night and while most people thought it was a dessert upon first glance, it went over well once that confusion was cleared up. Of course there were still the beet-avoiders who passed it over, but my husband and I were okay with that since it meant that we got to take home some leftovers.
This is a simple recipe, minus the crust which can be a little bit time consuming. Don't be overwhelmed though, I have some short cuts.
Beet and Goat Cheese Tart
Adapted from Orangette
One Flaky Pie Crust (see below for recipe)
2 medium-sized beets
3 large eggs
4 oz. chevre goat cheese, broken into small pieces as best as you can
3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
Let's start at the beginning for those who have never roasted beets before. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take your two lovely red beets (if they have stems, twist those off and use them later like you would use chard or spinach) and wash them up well. Then wrap each beet in foil and put them in the oven. Let them roast for about 45 minutes -1 hour. You might consider putting a cookie tray under them because sometimes they leak juice and your house fills with burning beet smells (yes, I speak from experience). Check them around 45 minutes by sticking a fork in them to test their tenderness. There should be little to no resistance on your fork. Take them out and let them cool for a few minutes on a plate. If I'm in a hurry, I'll let them cool just a bit, but will then peel them under cold running water while they're still warm so I don't burn myself. If the beet is cooked well, you should be able to peel the skin off easily with the side of a spoon.
While your beets are in the oven, you can get your crust started. You can also pre-bake your crust the night before and just fill and bake it the day of your event if you're pressed for time (See below for crust directions)
When your crust is ready to be filled, preheat the oven to 350. Slice the cooled and peeled beets into 1/4 inch slices and arrange them in one layer in the bottom of your pre-baked pie crust. Mix up the 3 eggs, milk and crumbled goat cheese in a small bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the beets and make sure the cheese chunks are evenly distributed over the top of the tart. Bake the tart for about 30 minutes until it's cooked through and pretty firm to the touch. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Flaky Pie Crust
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
1 cup plus 2 T. flour
1/2 t. salt
8 T. cold butter
3 T. ice water
In a food processor, combine flour and salt. Pulse for 10 seconds until combined. Cut butter into 8 pieces, add them to the food processor, and turn it on until the butter is well combined and you can't see any chunks. Then through the top hole, start adding the water a tablespoon at at time. You may have to add a bit more water, but 3 T. usually works for me. Add water a little at a time until the dough comes together. The dough will be soft, but should come together in a ball in the food processor. Take the dough ball out and wrap it in plastic wrap. Freeze the ball for 10 minutes. When it's chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it's big enough to drape over a 9" pie dish. Press the dough lightly into the bottom of the pan and cut the dough with about an inch of overhang. Now tuck the excess dough under the outside edge of the crust and flute or fork the edge. Bittman gives some good examples of this in his cookbook. Stab the dough all over with a fork and put it back in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray the back of some aluminum foil with some spray oil or rub it with butter. Put the foil spray-side down in the pie crust and fill the foil with beans or rice (I reuse the same rice for my pie weight so I don't waste so much). Pre-bake the crust for 12 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 3 minutes. Take it out and let it cool for a few minutes. Now it's time for the filling.
A note on this pie crust: I use this pie crust for everything from quiche to pumpkin pie (add 1 T. sugar to the flour and salt mixture for sweet pies). The crust is so flaky and, of course, has an amazing buttery flavor. I used to hate pie crust, but Mark Bittman has created a pie crust that compliments whatever it's holding in. Farewell the days of store-bought pie crusts!