December 23, 2007

Beet and Roasted Garlic Cheese Crostini


My parents made a monumental trip the other day - not in distance, as it is only 56 miles from their home to mine , but psychologically, since they have an extreme aversion to "New Yuck City," and this was their first visit to my apartment (I've lived here for over a year). We decided that I would make an appetizer to welcome them before going out to dinner.

(We went to Aurora, which they didn't like, and that is just insane because it is seriously the best Italian restaurant in Williasmburg. The cuisine is Italian, not Italian-American, owing to the chef from Piemonte, and every bite is a delicious balance of simple flavors. The star last night was wild striped bass over fregola, a larger version of couscous, with shrimp, cockles, and tomatoes, creating an ethereal broth tasting of the sea.)

So, I racked my brain trying to decide on an appetizer that would be appropriately seasonal, and beets came to mind. I've been seeing them at the farmers market every week, somewhat daunted by their dark dirty exterior, waiting for the right opportunity to roast some beets.

Beets are typically served with goat cheese as a salad, but as a bread lover, I had to get bread involved even though I've never seen beet crostini before. I wasn't sure if it would work, but it was great. I went with what I was able to get at my Greenmarket that morning, which was a loaf of hearty multigrain bread and a small tub of Ronnybrook Dairy's raw milk roasted garlic soft cheese. I would have used goat cheese if it was available, but this cheese worked well too - it was creamy, rich, spread easily, and the roasted garlic added a good punch of flavor to the crostini. I ended up with some leftover cheese and an extra roasted beet, because I hadn't realized that one beet would be more than enough, so I will happily be making this again as an appetizer for my holiday party next weekend.

Beet and Roasted Garlic Cheese Crostini

1 medium sized beet
half loaf of multigrain bread (or baguette)
4 oz raw milk roasted garlic soft cheese (or goat cheese)
olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
1 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 425. Wash beet thoroughly. Place beet on aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and then wrap foil over the beet into a pouch. Roast in oven for 45-90 minutes, depending on size of beet, until the beet is tender when you stick a fork through it.

Let beet cool. Cut into small, thin slices. Place beet slices in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and stir lightly to coat.

Preheat oven to 450. Cut baguette into slices. Rub with garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in oven approximately 10 minutes until toasted. Let bread cool.

To prepare each crostini, spread approximately 1 tbsp cheese on a slice of bread and then top with a few slices of beet.

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