The Beet Generation -or- We Got The Beet -or- Bestill My Beeting Heart -or- Grilled Beets And Petite Sirah, Oh My!

So there I was, standing in the kitchen, trying to decide what to make for dinner, and my missus said, “That reminds me, I need to use those beets …” But her particular and special treatment of beets is a more autumnal dish, so I pondered a bit, and then asked out loud, “Can you grillbeets?” It seemed rather unlikely. So I googled “grilled beets.” Turns out, it’s been done! So I went to work. (Photo at the end!)

First off, these were golden beets, fresh from the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market. I chopped the greens off, and put them in boiling water. Then I put butter and olive in a skillet, and hit the heat to medium. When it was good and hot, I tossed in walnuts, and gobs of chipotle powder. Ummm, pan-fried chipotle walnuts … Next, I turned the oven on to 350, then got out some herbed Silver Goat chevre, sliced it into thick discs, and laid the discs in a pie dish. When the oven was ready, in went the discs of herbed chevre. Ummm, baked herbed chevre discs …

The beets took forever to soften up a bit, but once they did, I brought them out, rinsed them in cold water, and used a towel to rub the skins off. Beautiful! Then I sliced them into thick discs, roughly the same size as the chevre, and tossed them into a mixing bowl. I poured in a double-dollop of olive oil, and a fistful of herbes de provence salt, and tossed away. When they were good and slathered up, out they came, and on to the panini grill, which was set to medium.

While I waited for the beets, I took out of the oven the baked herb chevre, and put in the oven an oval of garlic-and-Parmesan flatbread (whole wheat dough, minced garlic, and shaved Parmesan). Checking the beets, I decided the temperature was too low; they weren’t getting properly charred. But soon enough, things were cooking! I turned them halfway, to of course achieve the cross-hatch (but then I got impatient and hungry, so the second cross was admittedly faint by comparison) …

Last step was the dressing; I went for a creamy mustard vinaigrette of sorts; I say of sorts because, consistency-wise, it was almost to a hollandaise level of creaminess, less of a dressing really. Anyhow, I used spicy french dijon, a vegetarian mayonnaise (I prefer the vegetarian over “traditional” for both consistency and acidity), rice wine vinegar, white wine (yes, the ’07 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay!), olive oil (plus the olive oil and chipotle residue from the walnut skillet!), and herbes de provence, all heavily whisked.

Don’t forget about the flatbread! (I said to myself then, and to myself now …) Out it came, browned, but with the crust still soft enough to cut. Which I did. With a pair of kitchen scissors, I cut the flat bread into long thin strips.

Time to plate the dish. First, a bed of chopped organic romaine and shredded green cabbage. Then, the pan-fried chipotle walnuts, scattered. Then two overlaid concentric circles of baked herbed chevre and grilled beets. Then, around the perimeter, the garlic and Parmesan flatbread strips. Over all this, a plush drizzle of the dressing. Excellent …

Now, the weird bit; what wine do you suppose we paired this with? Petite Sirah! Specifically the Ridge Vineyards 2002 Lytton Estate Petite Sirah. Not normally a wine I would think of for this sort of a meal; the dish would seem to beg white wine, or perhaps an elegant pinot. But a big, inky, chalky, muscular Petite Sirah? Heavens to murgatroid … The thing is, we just really wanted to drink this wine. I mean really … So we single-decanted, and let it aerate about half-an-hour … When it was ready, out came the plates, in went the wine (Riedels …), and down sat we. The consensus? They co-existed perfectly, if somewhat independently, meaning the dish and the wine didn’t, as my missus likes to say, do that thing;that thing that happens when a pairing magically becomes more than the sum of its parts. But the meal stood up quite well to the wine, and it actually brought out some florality and spice that I hadn’t previously noted in the Petite Sirah before. This was probably the best thing about the pairing, that the dish actually engaged the wine in a way I hadn’t seen before. And despite seeming like lighter fare, the dish was actually a rather hearty offering, courtesy of the creamy drizzle, the cheese, and the umami savoriness from the charr on the beets. So they made a great couple, this dish, and that wine, with one particularly informing the other. We finished the wine down to the last drop, and scraped the plates clear (I’ll confess to finishing my missus’ flatbread; she was full!)

And that’s the scoop …

All in all, a very, very pleasant repast. See below (please click for full size) …


Categories: Food & Wine Pairing, Petite Sirah, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine Tales

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. Synchronicity. I read your post just after I’d listened to and prepared according to a recent Splendid Table riff on beets. Roast, julienne, saute with beet greens and garlic and served with pasta, said she. Because my garden is coming in, it also had three kinds of peas (English, snow, snap) and pesto.

    It seemed to call forth a rosé, however, and worked just fine.

    • Yummm, three kinds of peas … and I love Splendid Table! I’ve often attempted dishes of hers … and this, I must say, sounds delicious! Might I inquire as to details on that rose?


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