A hot in-demand private chef in East Hampton, Elena Apostolides designs dreamy menus for dinner parties, weddings, and special events. Elena recently prepared the most incredible farm to table Surf & Turf menu for my intimate dinner party at Maple Shade. This salad is a true work of art, especially since it comes infused with the fresh local beets sourced at Balsam Farms in Amagansett and Montauk.
An assortment of colorful beets (red, yellow, pink- all the variations you can find!)
Rosemary or thyme
Salt & Pepper
Edible flowers and pea shoots, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a deep baking dish (3 – 4 inches deep) with parchment or tin foil. Separate beets by color, so that they don’t bleed into each other and muddy the gorgeous colors. Place the whole beets into the dish (or two dishes if needed) and sprinkle olive oil over them. Throw in a few garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme or rosemary. You may want to reserve one or two beets to shave for garnish.
Pour water into the dish until beets are halfway covered. This will help steam them, making them easier to peel. Cover the dish very tightly with foil, so the steam doesn’t escape.
Next, place beets into the oven. For smaller beets, 30 minutes should do the trick. For larger ones, allocate 45 minutes to 1 hour. To see if beets are done, stick a small paring knife into one of them. If it pierces easily into the middle of the beet, it’s done. If not, cover again and cook them more. Be careful when opening the tin foil, as a lot of steam will come out!
Once finished cooking, allow the beets to cool a bit. When they’re still a touch warm is the best time to peel them. Use latex gloves if you have them as the red will stain your fingers. We like to use a few paper towels to help rub the skin off, and any stubborn pieces you can just cut off.
After peeling, cut the beets into wedges or any shape you desire. Cut the tops off of them since they’re a bit earthy and bitter. Separate the colors so you can marinate them separately to preserve the range of flavor.
For the marinade, add olive oil, salt and pepper to all of them; use balsamic vinegar for red beets, red wine vinegar for pink beets, white wine vinegar or rice vinegar for yellow beets. We find it’s best to let them marinate overnight.
Once ready to serve, try a beet to check for seasoning. Once you’re happy with the flavor, use a colander to strain the beets of any excess liquid (straining one color at a time). Spoon the beets into a wide bowl and garnish with raw shaved beets, pea shoots, and edible flowers. Bon Appetit!
*photos by Eric Striffler