Saturday, April 9, 2011

Beet Salad with Horseradish "Panna Cotta"

Two years ago I wrote about the awesome beet, hazelnut, and arugula salad with horseradish panna cotta that Ed and I had for an appetizer at the Center Cafe in Moab. Shortly after, I tried to reverse engineer the recipe and the results were a runny disaster. Ed suggested my failure* was a result of trying to make the panna cotta "too healthy".  Panna Cotta, an Italian desert, literally means "cooked cream" and I had substituted non-fat yogurt. When I asked about the panna cotta at the restaurant the waiter suggested it was maybe made with some yogurt (in retrospect not necessarily non-fat and not necessarily without cream).  Two years later I decided to stick to my non-fat goals and try again, this time with considerably more success.

Serves 6 (While this recipe serves 6, the prepared ingredients can be kept for 3-4 days with a smaller number of servings assembled at a given time.)


Combine in a small microwave-safe bowl:

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin (approx. 2 teaspoons)
1/2 skim cup milk

Let sit for about 5 minutes or until the gelatin is softened, then heat the mixture (high power) in a microwave oven for approximately 30 seconds or until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

In another bowl whisk together:

2 T horseradish
12 oz  non-fat plain yogurt

When the gelatin mixture has cooled, add to the yogurt mixture and divide this "panna cotta" among 6 (1/2-cup) ramekins. Cover and chill for at least 24 hours. 


Wash and peel (gloves recommended unless you like the red hand look):

2 pounds beets (about 6 medium sized beets)

Using a zester cut ~2 T of thin strips off the beets and reserve. If medium beets are used, cut beets in half; if small beets are used, leave them whole.  Place in a oven-safe baking dish.

In a small dish combine:

1/3 c orange juice
2 T olive oil
1/2 t pepper

Pour over the beets. Cover (I forgot once and all the liquid boiled away) the dish with a cover or aluminum foil and bake for 50 or 60 minutes until the beets are tender. Remove the beets from the pan, reserving the liquid in a small dish, and cool until the beets can be easily handled to cut, then cut into small wedges.  


To  the dish containing the reserved beet liquid add:

2 T vinegar (I use my homemade tarragon, wine or raspberry would work too)
½ t pepper

Pour the vinaigrette over the beets and refrigerate at least until the beets are cold.


Preheat oven to 350° F

Place on a jelly-roll sheet or other shallow pan with sides: 

3/4 c hazel nuts (or since oven is on anyway, roast more and save for other uses - awesome on hazelnut gelato!)

Place in preheated oven and roast for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the skins are blistered. Remove the pan from the oven, place a spoonful of nuts at a time in a dish towel and rub the nuts with the towel to remove loose skins (don't worry about skins that don't come off) and cool completely. Slice the nuts in half (optional).


Distribute evenly among 6 salad plates 

5 oz arugula 

Remove the panna cotta from the ramekins: Place each ramekin in turn, briefly (~15 - 20 seconds) in a pan of hot water. Remove and run a knife around the inside the ramekin.  Dry the outside of ramekin and immediately invert on the center of the salad plate on top of arugula.  Carefully lift off the ramekin, gently shaking to release the panna cotta. If the panna cotta does not slide out easily, using the same knife, try lifting a bottom edge to break the suction. Repeat until panna cotta has been placed on all 6 plates. Surround each panna cotta with 1/6th of the beets, sprinkle a few hazelnuts on the beets and top the panna cotta with 1/6th of the beet zest.  Serve immediately.

* Failure

Reviewed 6/18/2017

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