The Bitten Word Cover to Cover Challenge {Beet Salad}

If you worry that Autumn signals the end of bright, colorful salads, then you clearly haven’t tried this one.

The boys over at The Bitten Word brought this salad to my attention.  A couple of weeks ago, they decided to include their readers in an October food magazine cover to cover challenge.  They had a huge response, and found themselves with the daunting task of assigning 350 recipes from 6 of their favorite food magazines.  I was assigned to Team Food Network Magazine, specifically this No-Cook Beet-Orange Salad from the latest edition.

Raw beets remind me a lot of raw corn – they’re very sweet, earthy, and a little starchy.  The creamy, tangy goat cheese is a nice accompaniment, along with the sharp bite of the vinegar and the crunchy nuttiness of the pepitas.  If you think you don’t like beets, try them raw – you might change your mind.

Luckily, I’m a fan of beets, so this salad was right up my alley.  The original calls for chioga or golden beets, but I was only able to find golden and red when I went to the store the other day.  The only downside to this is that red beets stain EVERYTHING, so it’s best to add them at the very end to avoid turning your whole salad pink.  I also used toasted pumpkin seeds in place of the Marcona almonds because we’re a mostly tree-nut-free household.

Having a mandolin is certainly beneficial here, but it’s by no means a requirement.  You want to slice your beets paper thin, so if you use a knife make sure it’s super sharp.

You’ll need three oranges for this recipe – one to juice, and two to segment.  If you need to learn how to supreme an orange, this is a good tutorial from Coconut & Lime.

No-Cook Beet-Orange Salad

adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2012

prep time: 20 minutes

yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 beets, sliced very thinly on a mandolin
  • 2 oranges, supremed
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper
  2. Combine the beets, oranges and herbs in a shallow serving bowl
  3. Dress with the dressing
  4. Garnish with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds
  5. Enjoy!
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I Won This Ravioli. It Rocks.

Okay, so remember that review I did a couple of weeks ago of the butternut squash seed oil?  Well, if not, here’s a link that will bring it all rushing back with amazing clarity.  That particular post was part of a contest that was being sponsored by Marx Foods, and the winner was awarded their choice of six pounds of Pumpkin or Butternut Squash ravioli.

Guess who won?

Yep – it was I.  Little old me.

And on Thursday, I was greeted by a friendly delivery man dropping off a large box full of frozen squares of pumpkin-sage deliciousness.  Not that I ate them frozen.  That would be weird.

Despite the fact that pumpkin-sage ravioli is really more of an autumnal pasta, I decided to serve it for dinner last night with a mushroom/goat cheese cream sauce.  And let me just tell you – it was pretty amazing.

I mean, you can’t really go wrong with piquant goat cheese and earthy, deeply browned cremini mushrooms.  That combo would be tasty over just about anything.  But, when you pair it with this ravioli – this beautiful, colorful pasta, which is slightly sweet and a little nutty, bursting with robust savory richness – it is elevated to a whole new level.  This is a marriage of flavors, y’all.

To make the sauce, I browned a pound of sliced cremini mushrooms in about a tablespoon of butter over high, high heat.  You want those babies to get brown, brown, brown.  I waited to add salt until they had achieved the level of brown-ness I wanted, since salt draws out moisture, which is the enemy of browning.  I also added a minced shallot toward the end and just let it soften.

Once the mushrooms got good and brown, and the shallots had softened, I reduced the heat to low and added a cup of cream and 4 oz. of goat cheese to the mix.  I tasted for seasoning and added a little more salt and some cracked black pepper.  Once the goat cheese melted and became incorporated,  I added the cooked pasta and it was done.  It was about 15 minutes, start to finish (which is just about how much time it took for the water to boil and the pasta to cook).

If you have an occasion to taste this ravioli, I encourage you to take advantage of it.  I realize that the price on the Marx Foods website seems a little high, but when you consider that it includes overnight shipping and handling, it doesn’t seem so bad.  You get about 16 portions, which breaks down to 6 pieces per person (which is more than enough) for an entree portion, but you could easily extend it by serving it as an appetizer and only serving 2 or 3 pieces per person.  And my experience with the folks at Marx Foods has been nothing but positive.  They’ve been very helpful and quick to respond to my emails.

I do recognized that it’s unseasonably warm in most areas of the country, and pumpkin sage ravioli may be the last thing you want to think about right now.  However, this was too delicious not to share.  And as I said, this sauce would be tasty over just about anything – on scrambled eggs for breakfast, over papardelle for dinner, on crostini as an appetizer (you might want to reduce the cream for that last one).   It’s good stuff.

Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with Mushroom Goat Cheese Cream Sauce
prep time: 2 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes
yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  1. Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil.  Add the frozen ravioli and stir immediately to avoid sticking.  Cook 4-6 minutes, or until they float.  Remove from the water using a strainer or large slotted spoon.  Add to the sauce.
  2. While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, heat a large, heavy bottomed saute pan over high heat.
  3. Add butter and sliced mushrooms.  Cook over high heat until mushrooms are browned.
  4. Add shallot and cook until softened.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add cream and goat cheese.  Stir to melt goat cheese.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add cooked pasta and stir to coat.
  8. Enjoy!

Note:  I received this ravioli free from Marx Foods as an award from a contest in which I participated.  I was not asked to write a review in return for the product.  The opinions in this post are mine.