Friday, September 24, 2010

Roasted Vegetables with baked Goats Cheese

I made this today for my lunch.  It is absolutely delicious, incredibly easy to make and a lot of it can be prepared in advance.   It was a perfect size for a light lunch but you could use baby beets and a smaller piece of goats cheese for a starter.  I used a St Tola (mature log) organic goats cheese which was perfect for this.  Fresh, strong yet sweet, and a  little bit crumbly to cut meaning little pieces escape only to be teased back into place and enjoyed all the more.
Please do not use the vacuum packed cooked beetroot from the supermarket and especially not the pickled beetroot in a jar.  The flavours of the freshly roasted beetroot with the goats cheese and little crunchy walnuts is quite simply perfect.

For the vegetables (these can be prepared 24 hours in advance):
You will need, for one person:

1 fresh beetroot
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper

To roast the beetroot, wash and trim the shoots and roots off each beet and wrap tightly in tin foil.  Place in the oven at 160 degrees for about 1 hr 15 minutes.  To test whether it is done, take a cocktail stick and insert into the flesh.  If it pushes through easily, then its done.

To store it, wrap it in cling film (skin on) and leave it in the fridge until you need it, but I wouldn't recommend longer than 24 hours as it will loose its freshness.

Peel and quarter 1 red onion and place on a grill pan alongside pieces of red and yellow pepper (skin side up).  Drizzle over a little olive oil.
Cook under a high grill for 15-20 minutes. 
The skin of the peppers will blacken - this is fine, just don't let them blacken too much.
Take the vegetables off the grill and allow to cool.  Rub the blackened skin off the peppers.
When they were cooled completely, drizzle over a little more oil and store them covered with cling film in the fridge.

To assemble the dish:

Take the beetroot out of the fridge, peel it and using a circular cutter, slice down through the beet.  This will allow you to slice off perfect disks of beetroot.  You don't have to do this as it is a little wasteful, you can simply peel and slice.

Turn the oven on to 180 degrees.

Make some rough breadcrumbs (I used a malted grain loaf).  Crush 6 walnuts with your hands and mix them through the breadcrumbs.  Place them on an oven proof plate and place in the oven until they have dried out and are golden brown.

Take 1 generous slice of round goats cheese and remove the rind.  Drizzle a little olive oil on the cheese and roll in the breadcrumbs pressing it slightly between you hands so that the crumbs are stuck in and there are some more on top.
Place on an oven proof plate and bake for 10 minutes until the cheese seems almost about to melt away, but is just intact enough to keep its shape.

Just before the end of cooking place your serving plate into the oven and heat it up, ensuring it is hot and not just warm.
Take it out and arrange the beetroot and roast vegetables on the hot plate.  This will warm them through which will intensify the flavours.

When the cheese is baked, remove and place in the centre.

I drizzled the vegetables with a little of their preserving oil and some Dijon vinaigrette (made with 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 6 tblsps olive oil and salt and pepper to taste)

This was truly delicious and the colours make it look so pretty on the plate.  I have a feeling I will be making this as a starter at my next dinner party.  Try it, you will not be disappointed.

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