Inventory, of the fridge

Prompted by the eternal question: What is for dinner?
  • 5 leeks
  • 1 gallon raw, whole milk
  • 1 pint yogurt, swirled with honey and pumpkin puree and peppered with nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1 cup leftover oatmeal, cold and lumpy
  • 1/2 pound green beans, thawing, from our garden last year (overlooked?)
  • beets—so many big, earthy, Chioggia beets

It took a while—a few cookbooks, a cup of tea, a brisk, sunny walk—but somehow, from there, we got to this. Happy chilly evening, everyone. I hope you're well fed, and warm.


This recipe comes from the Balthazar Cookbook. I had it on my first visit to the restaurant on our trip last spring to Manhattan, and when I realized today I had all the ingredients, I had to have it again. I have swapped out a few of the fussier ingredients (i.e. sherry wine vinegar) for a slightly simpler salad, but be warned: as far as salads go, it's still on the fancy side. That said, if you prep out a big batch of the separate parts of this salad ahead of time, you can have it as an impromptu lunch or dinner all week.

1 cup walnuts
1 cup olive oil, divided
6 sprigs thyme, divided
4 medium beets
1/2 pound green beens (frozen are fine)
4 leeks, thinly sliced
1/4 cup minus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sherry (optional)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
finely ground black pepper
3/4 pound mixed greens (I used young spinach and red and green lettuces from the garden)
1/4 pound Great Hill blue cheese, cut into 8 pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant but not browned.

Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil onto a plate. Rub the beets in the oil, then wrap each one individually in tinfoil with a sprig of thyme. Bake for an hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Cool, peel, dice, and set aside.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook the green beans until al dente, about 5 minutes. Remove the beans from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice bath to cool. Meanwhile, cook the leeks in the reserved (still boiling) water for roughly 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove the beans from the ice bath and set aside, and remove the leeks from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice bath to chill. Once cooled, add the leeks to the beets.

Make the salad dressing: whisk together the red wine vinegar, sherry (if using), remaining 3/4 cup olive oil, walnut oil, salt, pepper, and remaining thyme (picked from sprigs). Toss this dressing, to taste, with your mixed greens.

Get out four salad plates. Create a bed of the beet-leek mixture in the center of each and top with a handful of green beans. Layer a handful of the dressed mixed greens on top of that. Lean two wedges of blue cheese on each salad up against the beets. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and enjoy at once.


Patty said...

Yes, if I don't plan ahead (or don't like my plan), I can spend hours searching for the right recipe. Sometimes I have to compromise. Last night, I replaced scallions and bean sprouts with bok choy and a little onion in a noodle bowl. Worked out pretty well. I don't usually have quite as interesting things in my fridge as you did.

Anonymous said...

This looks so delicious! Simple yet elegant for a winter meal. I'm waiting for our winter market to open (first they said Dec. 4, now Jan. 8!!) so I can get my paws on some beets.

xoxo anna

PS. We still have not turned on the heat. I may have to add some extra cheese to this so Andy doesn't waste away in our freezing apt!!

Elspeth said...

Patty, that sounds like the perfect fridge-creation for a cold night. I love brothy soups, and pho/pho-like mixtures are a favorite.

And Anna, I think you'd love it. That's a bummer about the winter market, but at least you (fingers crossed) have one coming in the future! This salad can wait—the heat is another matter.

All the best,


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