Roasted beet and red pepper salad with pistachios and goat cheese

Roasted beet and red pepper salad with pistachios and goat cheese

Roasted beet and red pepper salad with pistachios and goat cheese

People rarely ask me what I do. At the parties we attend–the fairly constant stream of casual gatherings, galas, brunches and luncheons—very few people say, “And what do you do, Claire.” Perhaps this is because I’m so obviously a bon vivant. One look at me and you instantly know that I spend my days composing bons mots and drinking champagne cocktails, watching the bubbles float upwards from a bitters-soaked sugar cube with a dreamy look on my face. Or maybe it’s because I dress like a giant five-year-old ragamuffin, and it seems cruel to ask, because I so obviously do nothing all day except make songbirds out of legos and nap with the dog. I think my tax return describes me as a homemaker. It’s a nice word, I suppose…much better than “housewife.” It’s got an active, creative element, and home is certainly one of my favorite words and one of my favorite concepts. It’s a big responsibility to make a home, and I’ll take it! I only think of myself as a waitress when I’m actually waiting tables, or sometimes when I realize that I can’t enter or exit a room without something in my hands, generally as many things as I can carry. And of course I’m a mom all the time, but that’s bigger than what I do, that’s what I am, among so many other things. I’ve decided lately that it’s important to decide what I do, not so that other people can define me by my employment or by the way that I make money, but as a way that I can decide for myself what it is that’s important for me to do. In the unlikely event that somebody asks me what I do, I’m almost fairly certain that I would say “I write.” If they ask me what I write, would I wander away, babbling awkwardly and incoherently? I don’t think I would, because I’ve also decided that I’m working towards something bigger than I’d realized. I realized this by deciding it, and it feels good (most of the time, if I can keep self-doubt and criticism and inertia at bay). I’ve incorporated all of the other things I do into this one bigger thing, because of course I’ll write about my sons and my customers at the restaurant, I’ll write about making a home, and all the ways that people do that. With this decision it’s become okay that I walk around the world with a constant stream of words flowing through my head. I no longer feel as crazy about this, because I can now give that stream a focus and direction; I’ve made a little pile of rocks to channel it, just like the boys do in the creek in summertime. I’ve made a little rivulet of thoughts which will grow wider and stronger and stretch its tired riverbanks, and eventually reach the sea! All by deciding what I do…what I can do, what I must do, what I will do.

Roasted beet and pepper salad.

Roasted beet and pepper salad.

I’ve said it was beet season again, and here’s more proof. It’s coldish today, but we had a lovely warm week last week (people were complaining about how hot it was! I bet they miss it now, though!) I think there’s nothing nicer on a chilly-warm fall day than a warm salad. I roasted the peppers and beets, and then piled them on a bed of arugula, tomatoes from the farm, and fresh basil. I rolled some small pieces of goat cheese in chopped pistachios, and then warmed those, as well, so they were soft and melty. Very nice, altogether. As with any salad, use what you have and what you like, whatever you’ve picked from your garden or farm or grocery store shelves. I’ve left the amounts vaguer than usual even, because you can use whatever proportions you like!!

Here’s I am I be, by De La Soul.

3 medium-sized beets, golden, red, or striped, sliced half, and then into 1/4 inch slices
small handful sage, thyme and rosemary, chopped
olive oil
1 large or 2 small red peppers
balsamic vinegar
a few large handfuls of baby arugula
2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/3 cup pistachio kernals, lightly toasted in a dry pan
salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the beets with olive oil and herbs to coat, and spread in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Roast until the beets are darkened and beginning to crisp up, 20 or so minutes. Turn the beets from time to time. Set aside.

Poke the peppers in a few places so they don’t explode and then put them on your burner or under a broiler until they’re blackened on all sides. Turn them frequently, and keep an eye on them so they don’t catch fire. Put them in a bowl with a plate on top to steam for about ten minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins (don’t worry about getting every speck) and trim away the seeds and veins. Roughly chop the peppers.

Roughly chop the pistachios and spread them on a plate. Form the goat cheese into little balls, and roll these in the pistachios. Don’t worry about getting everything perfectly coated. Put this mixture into a oven-proof dish, and put it in the oven with the beets for about ten minutes, until just softened.

On a large pretty plate, pile the argula. Sprinkle olive oil and balsamic over and toss lightly. Arrange the tomatoes on top and sprinkle basil over. Arrange the beets and red peppers over the tomatoes, and top with the pistachios and goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little more olive oil and balsamic over the top.

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