Pickled Beets and Breakfast Radish Salad
Zesty pickled beets and fresh radishes sit atop a ring of creamy goat cheese in this colorful salad from Australian chef Peter Gilmore of Quay restaurant. Eat as a light and flavorful lunch, or serve as a sophisticated first course at your next dinner party.
- 1 cup rice-wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 8 small (2-inch) beets
- 8 ounces pitted Ligurian olives
- 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 slices sourdough bread (crusts removed)
- Sea salt
- 64 very small radishes, such as French breakfast or cherry bell, trimmed and quartered
- 16 very small red pearl onions
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 1 1/4 cups fresh goat cheese
- 1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup baby watercress
- 1 cup micro herbs, preferably red-leaved, such as blood vein sorrel, red garnet, or bull's blood (beet leaves)
In a small bowl, mix together rice-wine vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Peel beets and very thinly slice using a mandoline. Transfer sliced beets to a medium bowl and add vinegar mixture, reserving 3 tablespoons of vinegar mixture. Let beets stand for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Fit a baking sheet with a rack and set aside.
Place olives in the bowl of a food processor; with the machine on high, slowly add 1/3 cup olive oil. Process until a fine paste is formed. Place bread on prepared baking sheet and spread olive paste evenly on both sides of each slice of bread. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is toasted, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Place cooled bread in the bowl of a food processor; process until fine crumbs are formed. Transfer crumbs to a medium skillet and toast over medium heat; remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. Generously salt boiling water and return to a boil; add radishes and onions and cook for 30 seconds. Drain and immediately transfer to ice-water bath to cool. Drain and peel onions. Transfer radishes and onions to a medium bowl; set aside.
Remove beets from vinegar mixture, squeezing out any excess; transfer beets to a medium bowl and set aside. Discard vinegar mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together goat cheese and creme fraiche until well combined. Divide goat cheese mixture evenly between each of 8 serving bowls; spread goat cheese mixture in bottom of each bowl to create a 4 1/2-inch circle; sprinkle bread crumbs over goat cheese mixture.
Drizzle radishes and onions with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with sea salt. Toss to combine and divide evenly between each serving bowl. Drizzle beets with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with sea salt. Toss to combine and add to bowls with radishes and onions.
In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and remaining 2/3 cup olive oil until well combined; drizzle over salads, keeping in mind you may not need to use all of the dressing. Garnish with watercress and micro herbs; serve immediately.