Al’s Flavor Grade: “Fit for a king”
A great grass-fed steak or burger calls for a great salad, so we are always on the lookout for standout recipes. We tried this one on Sunday with grass-fed burgers and found it outstanding. Rox says it has some “zing.” This is a fancy salad for special occasions, company or potlucks, and good for low-carbers like us. According to the chef who created it, goat cheese has double the protein as most other cheeses, so you could make this the meal centerpiece. As a bonus, it provides a new use for radishes and beets. Serves 6.
2 4-oz logs goat cheese, chilled
2 2-oz packages walnut pieces, toasted and divided
1 T butter
2 bunches radishes, trimmed, cleaned and halved
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper (we used Kosher salt)
1 8-oz package baby beets, halved or quartered (we roasted 3-6 ordinary beets and cut into chunks)
18-oz package romaine hearts, halved lengthwise through the core
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 c red wine vinegar
2 t cocoa powder
1 t sugar
3/4 t sea salt (we used Kosher)
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c olive oil
1. Prep vegetables and cheese: Heat oven to 400 degrees; wash, trim and peel beets. Toss with olive oil and salt and roast in the oven till crisp-tender. While they are roasting, trim, clean and halve radishes. Thinly slice red onion. Cut romaine hearts in half lengthwise, leaving the core on (helps during grilling). Toast the walnuts in oven or a skillet. Roll cheese logs in 3/4 c toasted walnuts. Cut each log into slices; set aside.
2. Make vinaigrette: whisk together all ingredients except olive oil (or, put in a screw-top jar and shake). Whisk or shake in the olive oil till well-blended.
3. Sauté radishes and beets: Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add radishes and cook till crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Season with salt and pepper. Return pan to medium heat and add beets with a drizzle of olive oil if needed. Heat through, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. Grill lettuce: Meanwhile, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Brush romaine with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on grill or grill pan and cook until the lettuce begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes, turning once. The color will also brighten during grilling.
5. Assemble salad: Lay grilled romaine spears on a platter. Top with radishes, beets, onion and goat cheese slices. Drizzle with Cocoa Vinaigrette and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c walnuts.
Serve with toasted wheat baguette or crackers, if desired.
Suggestion: We agreed that although the halved romaine hearts on a platter make for a beautiful presentation, they are a bit hard to eat. For ease of eating, or to take as a potluck dish, you could chop the romaine hearts after grilling and toss in a bowl with the other ingredients.