It's summer. While you're grilling or picnicking with friends and family, you may be on the lookout for tasty, easy recipes to pull together that require minimal cooking. Lord knows I used a few such dishes this weekend for mom's retirement party: lemon juice and holy basil marinated zucchini "noodles," honeydew with fresh mint, cherry tomato and cucumber salad, refrigerator pickles.
Here's a little something I just made at the 14th & U farmers' market this past Saturday. It was quite popular. Free food always is, I suppose, but people seemed genuinely interested in the recipe: I saw a few excited market shoppers beeline from my demo station to the farm stands to pick up the requisite ingredients. I do believe Cherry Glen will have more of their divine chevre next week, and hopefully North Mountain Pastures will have more pickled beets so I can pick some up myself to make my own batch of...
Pickled beets and goat cheese on baguette slices
-1 baguette, sliced into ¼ to ½-inch coins and brushed with olive oil
-1 pint jar of pickled beets (sliced or grated)
-1/4 cup chevre (or other soft goat cheese)
-a handful of dried fruit (raisins, chopped up dried apricots, dates, figs) OR fresh herbs OR toasted walnuts
-salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toast bread slices on a cookie sheet in the oven, on the grill, or in batches in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop until golden. Top each baguette slice with a bit of pickled beet and a spoonful of goat cheese. If your pickled beets are really tart, try topping the goat cheese with a few sweet raisins. Or garnish with fresh herbs (a spring of basil, parsley, fennel, etc.). Or should you want to base the appetizer more closely on the dish that inspired it -- roasted beet salad -- you can top the goat cheese with a toasted walnut.
The recipe makes about 2 platefuls (enough for 4-6 people, as an appetizer… assuming you don’t eat one plate yourself while making them) and you can assemble it in just a few minutes for impromptu entertaining. While I am rather insistent on seasonal cooking wherever possible, the core ingredients are all available year round. And it's equally good with a light red or chilled white wine. Imagine that.
A word of caution: beware of talking with the market manager while slicing bread or you may end up with one of these:
It doesn't look bad now, two days and half a tube of neosporin later, but it was a gusher. Thankfully, I didn't cut through the nail. Just as importantly, I didn't bleed all over the food. I got everything cleaned up and myself bandaged before the next round of eager tasters arrived at the cooking demo booth. (Honestly, I don't slice into my hand that often....)