Roasted beet, arugula and goat cheese tart

Beet, goat cheese, and arugula tart

Our little garden is so wild and tangled at the moment. We didn’t grow much, just herbs and a few peppers and two pretty bull’s blood beets. The herbs have all gone to seed, and curl around each other in a crazed tangled web, which catches Clio as she runs through the garden, to emerge the other end with herbaciously scented paws. David brought the beets home in spring, tiny and pretty, with shiny deep red leaves. I was going to use them then, in a salad, and I did pick a few baby beet leaves. But then I thought I should wait, and save them till they were more fully grown, and the beets were bigger. Of course it’s hard to tell when a beet is ripe, because it’s underground. So I kept waiting and waiting, watching the leaves get longer and thicker, watching the beets themselves swell out of the ground. And still I didn’t want to use them too soon. I wanted to save them for something really special. I do this with all sorts of things! People will give me blank notebooks, and I’ll set them aside until I have something really important to write. I buy vanilla beans, from time to time, and save them to make some remarkable dish, only to lose them in the cupboard. I’m like this with ideas as well – I’ll have a good idea for something to write, or a film to make, and I’ll set it aside till it’s just the right moment to act on it, only to lose it in the giant dusty cluttered room that is my head. I’ll find it in a dream, maybe, tucked away in some dim corner of my mind. But this past week, looking over the decadent mess that my garden had become, it became very clear to me that it was time to pick the beets. And they were lovely! A bit past it maybe, but so pretty inside, with rings of pink and rings of scarlet. I think my new motto will be EAT THE BEET!! Seize the moment! Don’t save it for a special day, because the very act of eating it will make a day special.

I wanted to do something to showcase their prettiness, so I roasted them and set them on top of a tart. I used the red leaves to color the custard. If you have regular beet greens, I think they’ll still work in this, but the custard will be greenish instead of pink – which will also look nice with the beets! I think the combination of roasted beets, arugula and goat cheese is a classic one, and that’s what we have here.

Here’s Pete Rock with What You Waiting For?

Pate Brisee, made like this, with 1 t basil stirred into the flour

2 pretty, medium-sized beets, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
about 1 cup beet greens, washed and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t dried basil, or small handful fresh, washed and chopped
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 cup arugula, washed and chopped
3 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup goat cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella
dash cayenne
salt and plenty of pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Coat the beets with a little olive oil, and roast for about 20 minutes, till they’re sizzly and just starting to brown.

Meanwhile…bring a small pot of water to a boil. Drop in the beet greens and cook for about ten minutes, till they’re completely soft, drain. Warm about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and dried basil, and cook until the garlic just starts to brown. Add the beet greens and stir and fry till they’re coated with oil and cooked through, and till the pan is mostly dry.

In a food processor, combine the beet greens, the eggs, the milk, goat cheese, mozzarella, cayenne and salt and pepper. Process till pink and smooth, though it’s nice if it’s flecked with bits of leaves.

Roll the dough to be the size of your (buttered and floured) tart pan, and press it in evenly, trimming the edges to be pretty. Bake for about 10 or 15 minutes, till it just loses it’s shininess.

Remove from the oven. Sprinkle the chopped arugula over the bottom of the tart shell. Pour the custard over, and then arrange the roasted beet slices prettily on top. Bake for about half an hour, till the custard is puffed and starting to brown.

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