This recipe is a little fussy but it is beautiful, delicious and healthy.
Beet Gratin with Goat Cheese and Greens
• 2 1/2 lbs red beets (~4-5 medium beets), with greens attached (or use chard)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 oz goat cheese, finely crumbled
• 2/3 cup whole milk
• 1 cup dry bread crumbs
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only)
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and lightly grease baking dish with olive oil.
2. Cut the tops off the beets. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler. Slice the peeled beets very thin (use a mandolin or food processor slicer –the slices should be about 1/8 inch thick). Line the prepared baking dish with half of the beet slices, overlapping them as necessary to form a thick layer. Sprinkle the slices lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Separate the green leaves from the lower, thicker stalks. Cut the stalks into 1/2 inch segments and rinse them well. Drain and set aside in a small bowl.
4. Cut each beet leaf in half, then into thin ribbons. Wash very well and drain thoroughly.
5. Set a wok or deep 10 inch saute pan over medium heat and add a generous drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the minced garlic and cook for a moment, then add the chopped beet stalks. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the ribbons of beet greens and stir them in. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently for another 5 minutes, or until the greens are slightly wilted. Turn off the heat.
6. Lift out the beet stalks and greens, leaving any extra liquid behind in the pan. Spread the greens and stalks evenly over the sliced beets in the baking dish. Put crumbled goat cheese evenly over the greens. Top with the remaining beet slices, again overlapping them as needed to form a thick layer. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the milk evenly over the beets. Drizzle with olive oil.
7. Mix the bread crumbs, lemon zest, and thyme leaves in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
8. Bake in 9 x 13 pan for 40 mins. covered. Then remove from oven, sprinkle with bread crumbs and put back in the oven uncovered for 20 mins. or until bread crumbs are a little brown.
9. Remove the dish from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.