The Passion Fruits

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Savory-Sweet Valentine’s Day Beets!

I’ve been working on a Spanish-influenced cocktail menu of tasty tapas to serve at a Valentine’s Day cocktail to-do Mr. T and I are hosting next week for Immigration Equality. In addition to the usual suspects (check out tienda.com for all your manchego, membrillo, and jamon needs), I’ll be making these beet and chevre toasts.

They’re deceptively simple: grilled country bread, a swipe of “whipped” goat cheese, thin slices of roasted beet, a little oil, salt, and pepper. But so, so good. We had this at Estadio, the new (impossible to get into) tapas place in town, and though all the food was very tasty, it’s this simple dish that stuck in my mind. Though I’m a sucker for anything on toast, it really was exceptional–sweet earthy beet, tangy bright goat cheese, crunchy smoky bread… mmm.

For our Valentine’s Day party, though, I felt the need to camp it up a little bit. So, instead of plain rounds of beet, little hearts. For my trial run, I used my tiny heart-shaped aspic cutter. (What? I cut aspic ALL THE TIME. Shut up.) I have, however, invested in a slightly larger heart-shaped cutter for the big party. Even I have limits, remote though they may be.

I’m also not quite sure where my hand mixer went, so I just loosened the chevre with a bit of cream and mooshed it about enthusiastically with a spatula. That seemed to work just fine, if *slightly* less ethereal than the original.

Romantic Beet & Chevre Toasts
Yield: ~16 pieces

1 large or 2 medium beets (~1lb)
olive oil
4 oz chevre
4 tbs cream
pinch salt
2 tbs minced chives
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 1lb baguette

Preheat oven to 350°. Trim greens from beets, rub lightly with olive oil, and wrap in heavy duty foil. Place the foil-wrapped beets on a lipped baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast till tender and easily pierced with a skewer, about an hour. (Time can be considerably longer if the beets are large and/or old.)

While the beets are roasting, combine the chevre, cream, salt, and half the chives in a medium bowl. Mix vigorously to combine and loosen. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

When cooked through, remove beets from oven, carefully unwrap–watch out for steam–and let cool. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. Using a mandoline, slice the beets into ~1/8″ slices. If desired, use a small heart-shaped cutter to cut littel beet hearts. When finished cutting, place the beet hearts in a bowl and toss gently with a little olive oil–this keeps them from drying out and helps minimize the bleed.

Slice the baguette into rounds and either grill or toast lightly. Just prior to serving, spread a generous tsp of cheese onto each toast, topping each with some of the beet hearts, a sprinkling of the reserved chives, and a little pepper. Serve immediately.

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