Gastronomic Neophilia - Beet Raisin Salad with Toasted Pecans, Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette, Garlic Bacon
Socrates said “to know thyself was the beginning of true wisdom.” I thought I knew myself pretty well actually, until I heard the word “neophiliac.”
A neophiliac loves novelty, new things, experiences, tastes, etc. A gastronomic neophiliac loves getting their hands on new ingredients or trying a technique they had never tried before.
Today, we’re going to make you a gastronomic neophiliac too. Because you will LOVE these beet raisins, even if you don’t make the rest of the salad. They’re great for snacking on, super nutritious, and rather like adult gummy bears.
If you want a stronger tasting beet, change the champagne vinegar to sherry vinegar. If you don’t eat sugar, replace monkfruit for the sugar. I’ve tried both variations and they turned out great.
For The Beet Raisins
2 pounds small beets
1 cup water
1 cup champagne vinegar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Trim and peel the beets. Halve each beet and cut into roughly equal pieces that are about 1/2” by 1.” Carrie Baird from Colorado came up with this recipe and actually melon-balls her beets. That’s never going to happen in my kitchen. I’m perfectly happy with little cuts, it takes less time and there’s less waste - more raisins.
Put the beets in a non-reactive 2-quart pot along with the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt and simmer gently, covered, until the beets are very soft but not falling apart, about 2 hours.
Drain the beets of their liquid and allow them to cool. Place the beets on the rack of a dehydrator and dehydrate at 145 degrees F until chewy and raisin-like, 4 to 5 hours.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, take your oven temp down as close to 145-150 as it will go, and just keep an eye on them.
This will only make about 3 ounces of beet raisins after dehydration, so you might want to double the recipe if you’re a beet lover. Or a raisin lover!
For The Vinaigrette
7 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3⁄4 cup crumbled bleu cheese (about 2 1/2 oz.)
1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat; add garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute.
Transfer garlic mixture to a blender or food processor; add blue cheese, white wine vinegar, water, sugar, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil.
For The Bacon
As much bacon as you want
You can flavor bacon with almost anything to make a great ingredient even better. Try brushing it with maple syrup, or soy and brown sugar.
But for today, lets just sprinkle finely ground garlic powder on both sides of each slice of bacon. Place on a rack, over some parchment or foil on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 for about 12 minutes. (Up to 20 minutes for thick cut).
For The Salad
Bleu Cheese vinaigrette
Your favorite lettuce leaves - I like butter lettuce for this salad
Some toasted pecans
Thinly sliced scallions
Garlic bacon, broken into pieces
I put the beet raisin portion of this recipe before anything else, because as I mentioned, I’d love it if you’d try them. They’re so easy, really tasty and you can then honestly call yourself a neophiliac.
Welcome to the party :)