Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Golden beet, shallot, hazelnut and gorgonzola salad with balsamic vinaigrette

I know what this looks like. It looks like I am someone who eats really well. I look like someone who eats healthy, who always eats nice, home cooked meals. And maybe it looks like I am a little bit obsessed with food and that I spend way too much time trying to make palatable meals. 

Maybe you think I have too much time on my hands or that I having nothing better to do. If you do, that is okay. I think that about people who have blogs that are clearly way prettier, more interesting and more professional then mine. But I know that is not true.

I know that someone who posts two or three things a week is eating maybe 15 other meals that week that they did not tell you about. I know that only one or two evenings are required to write and mull over a post and that most of the work is done in ones heads while riding the bus, walking around town, shopping or while lying in bed. And I also know that writing a post can be done while watching a documentary (which I do a lot of), listening to music or even while eating.

I am totally off track here. What I wanted to say is that I do not eat as healthily as it may seem. I am happy that this blog has forced me to eat a variety of foods, so I know I am getting a lot of nutrients. And I am glad that I have pushed myself to try all sorts of new recipes and ingredients and cuisines. And I am also pleased that some of my TV watching time has been replaced by blogging time. 

But you deserve to know that I do not cook healthy meals every day and I still eat a surprising amount of crap. On a regular basis, when I am short on time or energy I eat Annie's shells and white cheddar pasta, Patel's or Tasty Bite's Indian curries, Gardein's crispy tenders and many of Amy's canned soups.

The last week or two in particular my eating habits have been especially poor. The week before last I was often staying at school late and eating on campus, or was just too tired when I got home to put any effort into cooking. And then of course last week I was indisposed due to my embarrassing head injury which precluded any activity requiring me to spend more than 10 minutes on my feet at a time. Many of the aforementioned prepared foodstuffs were my fuel during this time.

After long stretches of unsatisfactory eating like this I usually reach a point where I cannot think of eating anything except a giant salad. Today was one of those days.

I went to Whole Foods right after a long day at work and headed straight for the lettuce. Next, I walked up to the nut bins and stared at them for a good five minutes before deciding on roasted hazelnuts. I already had beets and shallots at home so I then headed to the cheese section. I wanted a gorgonzola cheese for some other recipes I have planned for later in the week and solicited a worker for advice on the most mild gorgonzola they had. I ended up with Castello gorgonzola which turned out to be exactly what I had in mind and which melted beautifully on top of some warm beets. Honestly, this was the perfect salad to end a much-too-long streak of not-so-great eating habits.

Golden beet, shallot, hazelnut and gorgonzola salad with balsamic vinaigrette
Makes 2 medium salads

Mixed greens (enough for 2 medium salads)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
Fresh ground sea salt
1 small shallot
3 small yellow/golden beets
10 - 15 roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 - 3 tbsp Castello (or other mild) gorgonzola

1 - Turn on grill (I used my trusty Goerge Foreman) or preheat cast iron pan over medium heat
2 - Trim, peel and slice beets to 1/4" thickness (brush with olive oil if desired - I did not) and place on grill, turning after about 5 minutes. Continue grilling until slightly soft and browned.
3 - Slice shallots and also place on grill. Turning once, grill until browned and soft.
4 - Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, balsamic, honey and salt to make the dressing.
5 - Toss lettuce in the desired amount of dressing and divide onto serving plates.
6 - Lay warm beets and shallots on top of lettuce.
7 - Crumble gorgonzola on top of warm beets and shallots.
9 - Garnish with chopped hazelnuts and serve immediately.  

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