Beet Mozzarella Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing
I love this salad as a light lunch meal, especially with the flavorful gorgonzola salad dressing. Alternating thin slices of mozzarella and red beets make up the core of the salad; I placed them on a bed of arugula and flavored them with a leek vinaigrette. Lightly toasted pine nuts added a little crunch.
Serve with slices of toasted sourdough rye bread and you'll be satisfied for the rest of the day.
Yields: 8 servings6 large beets (see tips), steamed and thinly sliced
3 cups arugula
1 fresh mozzarella ball
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons store-bought pickled onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white peppercorns, freshly cracked
3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 cup tofu sauce (click on the link for the recipe)
2 tablespoons oil-cured black olives
1 ounce gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard
How to prepare the leeks: Trim the hairy root but make sure not to cut so high that all the leaves separate. Cut about 4 inches off the long dark green top part of the leek as well. It's very fibrous and not as tender. You can save it for making vegetable stock. Remove a layer or two if the leaves are wilted.
Fill a large bowl of water and rinse the leeks. Try to open up the leaves so you can remove all the sand and dirt. Make sure the center portion is still intact so the vegetable holds together. Wash the leeks again under cold running water; there might still be more sand.
Place a steamer basket over a good amount of water in a large saucepan. Add the leeks to the basket. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes (depending on how thick the leeks are).
Let cool to room temperature. Cut the leeks into 1" pieces. Set aside.
Making the gorgonzola dressing: In a blender, combine the tofu sauce, mustard, olive oil and gorgonzola and mix until it flows smoothly. Season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.
Cover the serving platter with arugula. Add rows of beets and mozzarella, alternating them until all the ingredients are used. Top with chopped olives, pickled onions. Place the leek pieces around the edges of the platter. Cover the center of the rows with the gorgonzola dressing and sprinkle with pine nuts.
If you prepare the salad in advance, you could chill in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve. Remove the beets from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving to bring them back to room temperature.
You can use fresh garlic instead of the pickled garlic but the garlic flavor is going to be a lot stronger. You can find pickled garlic in Asian stores.
Here are a few tips to prevent beets from staining yourself and your kitchen:
- Rule #1: Wear dark-colored clothes.
- Rule #2: Grease your hands with oil before touching the beets.
- Rule #3: Do not cut (or place) beets on a marble baking slab!
- Rule #4: Use a plastic cutting board. You can eventually toss it or bleach it later.
- Rule #5: If unfortunately, you stained your wooden cutting board, use the same technique as you would for removing wine stains; sprinkle a little kosher salt on the stain and spray a little water. Wait for an hour.