Tuesday, December 27, 2011

warm roasted beets and shallots with prosciutto and mint

One of the many roasted vegetable dishes we made for Christmas Day dinner this year. Definitely my favorite (obviously, because it has beets). Leave out the prosciutto (which I honestly didn't find all that flavorful in the dish) and it's vegan! This recipe is from this year's  Fine Cooking "Make-Ahead Holidays" issue, and you can also find it here. The recipe makes a side dish for about four people.

1 pound small or medium beets, scrubbed but not peeled
5 large shallots, peeled
4 teaspoons olive oil
kosher salt to taste
5 small or 2 big sprigs fresh rosemary

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces prosciutto, cut into strips
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
kosher salt to taste
pinch (by which you know I mean "heap") of crushed red pepper
15-25 large mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Crisscross two large sheets of aluminum foil on a baking sheet.

Slice the stems and tails off of the beets, and quarter them (or cut into sixths or eighths if using large beets). Slice the shallots into quarters lengthwise. Toss beets and shallots with the olive oil and about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and place close together (but in one layer) on the foil. Try to put the shallots in surrounded by beets so they soak up the color. Place the rosemary sprigs on top, fold the foil over and scrunch the ends so it's secure. Roast in the oven for about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Make the dressing by warming the olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the prosciutto and sauté until it's crispy, then remove it and place it on a paper towel to cool. Turn the heat down to medium-low and sauté the garlic until the slices are translucent and a little bit golden (about a minute, when I did it). Stir in the vinegar, red pepper, and salt, and remove from the heat.

When the beets and shallots are done, open the foil packet and let them cool for about twenty minutes. At this point we ended up peeling all of the beet slices, because the peels were bitter as hell, but if you like that/desperately want to follow the original recipe, leave them on. Toss the (peeled) beets and shallots with the dressing. Shred the mint leaves and mix through the dish along with the crispy prosciutto.

You can roast the beets and shallots a day ahead, if you're cooking on a tight schedule. Just roast them in an open pan on 400ºF for ten minutes or so while  you make the dressing and prosciutto and shred the mint.

We made a lot of vegetables for this meal. There were only nine of us, but we had all of the ones above, plus two different kinds of Hungarian cabbage (stuffed and purple). And scalloped potatoes, which are sort of traditionally in the vegetable category, but probably more in dairy because of the amount of cream that goes into them. And a beef tenderloin that was wrapped in bacon and then covered with horseradish sauce. The meal was awesome, well-balanced, and rainbow-y.

I meant it before when I said you can make this vegan... the real star of the dish is the mint, which takes it from nice to fascinating. The prosciutto didn't taste like much besides salt. I highly recommend making the vegan version and then eating it with leftover ham from Christmas Eve, as seen in the first photo. Bonus: use extra mint to decorate/enhance your inevitable helping of dobos torte, which I swear is an amazing idea, however many eyebrows my family raised at it.