Sheltering in place means we're having to adapt and make substitutions on recipes where we don't have everything on the ingredient list.
This roasted beet recipe from "Cooking for Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple" by Paul Kahan, Perry Hendrix and Rachel Holtzman (Lorena Jones Books, $35) is a good example. You could use any roasted root vegetable (carrots, turnips, potatoes) and any hearty greens (collards, chard, beet tops), which are then tossed in a marinade for up to several days. When you're ready to make the dish, quickly char the marinated vegetables and then serve with a vinaigrette that you could make with any nuts you have on hand.
You could serve these veggies by themselves, but the authors take it one step further by adding burrata, an extra-creamy mozzarella that would be a real treat to buy from a specialty cheese shop right about now. Fresh mozzarella or feta would work, too. A spoonful of ricotta served on top would be nice, or you could even cut up cubes of packaged mozzarella. Or serve with seared tofu or paneer. Or leave the cheese out altogether. You see where this is going.
The takeaway at this point in the pandemic is to take inspiration from recipes and learn how to adapt them for what we have on hand or what we can get our hands on.
Roasted Beets With Burrata, Kale and Hazelnut Vinaigrette
Marinating root vegetables and hearty greens and then charring them creates an exceptional flavor, which gets an extra boost from a nut vinaigrette. I like to serve this dish with a creamy burrata, but you can serve it without dairy.
- Paul Kahan
• 2 pounds beets, sweet potatoes, turnips or carrots
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 2 sprigs rosemary
For the marinated kale:
• 1 large bunch black Tuscan kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
• 1/4 cup grated pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1 orange or lemon, or 2 tablespoons red, Champagne or cider vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flake
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon honey
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
For the hazelnut vinaigrette:
• 1/4 heaping cup hazelnuts, toasted in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and then chopped finely or ground in a mortar and pestle (can substitute almonds, pecans, walnuts or another nut)
• 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil (or olive oil)
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
• 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon honey
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 balls burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into rough chunks
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts (or other nut)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Depending on the size and type of the root you're using, peel it or not. (Generally, peel beets, but leave the other skin on with scrubbing.)
Cut the roots into chunks; I like them about 1 inch thick and 2 inches long. There's no wrong way to do this; just keep all of your vegetables similar in size and shape so they cook evenly.
Heat an ovenproof saute pan, such as a cast-iron skillet, that is large enough to hold the root vegetables in one layer over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Carefully add the roots and let them caramelize on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Toss and season with the salt and pepper. Add the thyme and rosemary and transfer the pan to the oven.
Cook until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender. Start checking with the tip of a sharp knife after 6 minutes and continue to check every 5 minutes. They're done when they're easily pierced all the way through. (Beets will take the longest; turnips the shortest.)
Spoon the roasted vegetables into a large bowl. Discard the herb stems. Add the kale, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, citrus juice or vinegar, chile flakes, garlic, honey, salt and pepper. Toss until well coated, massaging the marinade into the kale. Let marinate for two hours or overnight.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the nuts, oil, vinegar, shallot, thyme, honey, salt and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it until the dressing comes together. Set aside until ready to serve or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
When you're ready to finish the dish, heat a large cast-iron pan over high heat for 5 minutes. When the pan looks very hot, add the marinated root vegetables and char on one side for 1 minute, just long enough to get some coloring. Remove the root vegetables from the pan and add the kale, again charring for 1 minute. You are looking to just heat the kale, not fully cook it. You also could do this over the high heat of a grill. Remove the pan from the heat.
To serve: Spread the cheese over a large platter. Season it a bit with salt and pepper. Scatter the charred kale and beets over the cheese, douse with the hazelnut vinaigrette, and finish with the chopped hazelnuts. Serves 6.
- Adapted from "Cooking for Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple" by Paul Kahan with Perry Hendrix and Rachel Holtzman (Lorena Jones Books, $35)