Roasting a good beet and learning by seeing

Sometimes, you don’t know what you know until you tell someone else how to do it. Last Sunday my golf instructor Dennis noticed I was pulling up too short with my left arm and corrected me. I chastised myself for my poor skills and ignorance. He just shrugged in his laconic, cheery way and said,  “I couldn’t cook a vegetable right to save my life. We all have stuff we’re good at.”

Funny he should bring up cooking vegetables, because I’m an expert at that. From blanching to sautéing, stir frying to steam, I am the veggie queen. I’ve written books on it. I’ve written hundreds of vegetable-centric recipes for Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, and Bon Appetit. I’ve taught basic vegetable cooking classes to hundreds, maybe thousands of students. That’s why I was thrilled that Craftsy, the online learning video company, asked me to come out to Denver and shoot a 10-part series called Vegetable KnowHow: Techniques for Best Results.

At first I was nervous as hell (cameras are scary) and I thought the class might be too Cooking School 101, but lesson after lesson the crew would circle around me in my TV show kitchen and devour my veggies, exclaiming “I never knew that’s why you steamed artichokes like that!” or “I didn’t think I liked broccoli, but I can’t stop eating this!” or even “I’m texting my wife right now to tell her that trick about the roasted potatoes!” When I teach, I include loads of tidbits I’d never think to write. Cool stuff. The stuff you’d never know unless you’ve spent decades in professional kitchens like I have. The stuff I don’t even know I know, it’s just second nature. But it’s not second nature to everyone, thus this class.

The cool thing about Craftsy.com is you can ask me questions directly while you watch the class and I’ll answer you,  you can watch it as many times as you want, and you can even watch in your pajamas if you want to. You can also share photos of your vegetable dishes so I can see how you’re doing. There’s oodles of recipes, from Glazed Heirloom Carrots with Tarragon to Herby Mixed Mushrooms En Papillote, plus lots of basic techniques for perfectly cooked vegetables that you can then make your own. Take my method for shaving corn and making a quick corn-basil-tomato sauté. Or my fool proof stir-fry sauce. Or this super-easy method for roasting beets. Once they’re roasted and peeled (I’ll show you how in the video) you can use them anyway you want–like the marinated beet salad recipe below, paired with shaved fennel and a anise seed vinaigrette. It’s divine. My golf swing? Not so much.

As a special launch incentive to purchase my Craftsy class, I’m offering a $10 discount!  Click here to enroll and I’ll see you there!

Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Anise Seed Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound beets, roasted

1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons anise seed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 bulb fennel, feathery leaves removed, thinly shaved

3 cups mixed lettuce

1/4 cup roasted chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 425. Wrap the beets individually in foil and bake until a paring knife easily pierces the largest beet, about 1 hour depending on the size of the beets. Remove foil and allow beets to cool.

While beets are cooling, make the vinaigrette. Toss the onion and salt together in a small bowl and let them get to know each other for about 10 minutes. Crush the anise seeds in a mortar and pestle and add them to the onions. Whisk in the vinegar, pepper, and sugar and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in the oil; set aside.

Slip the skins off of the beets with your fingers. Cut beets into bite-sized wedges and toss evenly with the vinaigrette. Serve on a bed of shaved fennel and lettuce with pistachios sprinkled over the top like fairy dust. 🙂


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