Beet It: Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Kale Crisps

This is one of those “off-concept” times. I kind of walked into Whole Foods and went bananas over spring greens. Not as bananas as I went over bananas the other day…but pretty crazy. I kept trying to think of things to satisfy everyone in at dinner: vegetarian stepsister, the littler picky-eater ones, meat-loving dad, and those trying to diet (myself included). Somehow I grabbed a whole bunch of beets and decided to go from there. The result: beet salad with goat cheese and kale crisps, and turkey burgers stuffed with goat cheese and topped with sauteed beet greens. The beet salad was definitely the prettiest part.

I’m not gonna lie – the beets became the centerpiece of this.  But the whole thing really started with kale.  And salt.  When I was in New York last weekend, I hit up The Meadow in the West Village – an adorable shop devoted half to chocolate and half to gourmet salts.  I grabbed some chocolate salt, to cover all bases, and also stocked up on smoked salt because I’m utterly addicted to it.  Smoked salts, while awesome with popcorn (as I usually take ’em), are also really great for adding a nice meaty taste to vegetarian dishes.  I started making kale crisps ages ago after seeing them on The Kitchn, and I thought they’d be a pretty awesome smoked salt vehicle.

I was so right.  Also, for those of you who might not have tried these…they’re generally really easy.  Basically, you just pull kale off its woody stems, spritz it with olive oil (I use a mister), salt it, and bake it at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Voila!

The beets, as you can see, spoke for themselves.  I can never resist multicolored beet salad.  And I was already envisioning the lovely contrast they’d make with this green bowl when I bought them.  Aesthetics aside, I also thought the kale chips would make a cool textural contrast.

The thing about Whole Foods beets: they come with greens still-attached.  Throwing out greens this gorgeous just seemed foolish.

So, I sauteed them with a little garlic and onion (taking some inspiration from Simply Recipes) and used them, along with salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice, to season ground turkey breast for turkey burgers.

I stuffed the burgers with goat cheese.  One of the upsides of being home for bar exam study time is use of my stepmom’s awesome 5-burner stove.  Downside: paparazzi papa.  I asked my dad to take process shots…and got a bunch of shots of myself.

But enough rambling.  The result of all this stream-of-consciousness menu-planning: the beet salad is seasoned with smoked salt, pepper, and lemon juice to complement the burger, and topped with kale bits for crunch.  The salad, as anticipated, was not too popular with the kid stepsisters, but it was diet-friendly and yummy, and it had enough protein and heft to form a full meal for a vegetarian.  The cheese-stuffed turkey burgers went over really well with everyone (though my dad still prefers beef – big surprise) and even got some greens in the mix, Sneaky Chef-style.  Overall, a sort-of-seasonal, flavorful weeknight meal.

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Beet Greens (Makes 4)
Greens from 2 bunches of beets (about 6)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. lemon juice
1 lb. ground turkey breast
2 oz. goat cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Remove woody stems from the beet greens. Rinse them, drain them in a colander, rinse them again (they can be rather gritty), and pat them dry. Chop them into fairly uniform pieces about 1 inch square.
2. Heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the garlic and onion and saute until translucent. Add the greens, stir until a little wilted, then add about 1 tablespoon water. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, checking and stirring often.
3. Cook the greens down, then remove from heat and add salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
4. In a medium bowl, use your hands to mix the turkey meat with salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and about 1/4 cup of the beet greens. Reserve the rest of the greens to top the burgers.
5. Divide the meat into four patties. Divide one patty in two, flatten one half on a prep surface, place 1/2 an ounce of the goat cheese in the center (leaving at least 1/2 an inch on all sides), then flatten the second half of the patty between your palms and place it on top, sealing the edges to keep the goat cheese inside. Repeat with the three remaining patties.
6. Pan-fry or grill the burgers over medium heat for about 5 minutes a side. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns with sauteed beet greens.


Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Kale Crisps (Serves 4-6)

2 bunches beets (6 medium to 8 small), preferable a mix of purple and golden
1 bunch kale
1 tsp. plus 1/2 tsp. smoked salt
1 1/2-2 tbsp. lemon juice (depending on personal preference)
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Fresh-ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put a large pot of water up to boil. Trim leaves from beet. Rinse the kale and pull the soft leafy parts of the it off the stems in pieces about 2-3 inches across.
2. Boil the beets in the water for about 40 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. When they are done, drain them, run them under cold water, and peel them. The beet skin should come off easily when scraped with a knife.
3. While the beets are cooking, lay the kale leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spray them thoroughly with olive oil (I use a mister) and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the smoked salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees until thoroughly dehydrated, using a fork to toss and rearrange them halfway through. Let them cool as you finish peeling the beets.
4. The beets should still be warm to the touch when you finish peeling them. Slice them to 1/4-inch thickness and sprinkle with lemon juice, pepper, and the remainder of the smoked salt. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and kale crisps and serve immediately (or the kale will get soggy and unpleasant).