"An artfully arranged platter of beets, cheese and brittle is a sexy side dish so sweet and delicious that you could almost choose to serve it for dessert."
2 bunches beets, 5 to 6 medium beets, about 2 lbs (1 kg), trimmed of stems and roots
2 tbsp (30 mL) + 2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
Finishing salt, like Maldon
¼ cup (60 mL) shelled pistachios
½ cup (125 mL) sugar
1 log (130 g) soft goat cheese
1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh thyme leaves
1 Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
2 Scrub and dry trimmed beets, then wrap in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes or until just tender. Unwrap, let cool, then remove skins (they should slide right off). Cut beets into wedges. Toss with 2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic.
3 Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a pinch of Maldon salt and the pistachios, making a large rectangle on the paper.
4 Add sugar to a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, and cook until sugar is totally melted. Don’t stir the sugar, but it’s okay to swirl the pan now and then for even cooking. Add remaining 2 tsp (10 mL) of balsamic and swirl pan around until sugar is totally melted again and has started to caramelize. Evenly pour mixture over nuts and salt on baking sheet, then wiggle pan so the caramel spreads and forms an even layer. Let cool for 10 minutes, then break into small chards.
5 Arrange beet wedges on serving platter and break goat cheese into walnut-sized chunks, placing them here and there. Drizzle beets and cheese with olive oil and a pinch more of Maldon salt. Tuck brittle shards into the arrangement and sprinkle all with fresh thyme.