A long time ago, my dear husband was at a fancy business dinner and he saw carpaccio on the menu. The waiter told him it was very thinly sliced beef, which sounded great to my prairie boy. The waiter forgot to mention it was raw. My sweetheart loves his beef, but prefers it cooked to a medium-rare. Good thing this was just his appetizer or he may have gone hungry that night! Traditionally carpaccio is very thinly sliced or pounded raw meat (usually beef, veal or venison) served as an appetizer. The version I suggest in this blog is safe for all those, including my husband, with an aversion to raw meat: it features roasted beets.
An interesting aside (if you like interesting pieces of food trivia, which I do), Carpaccio is named after an Italian painter who was known for using bright reds similar to the colour of the meat in his paintings.
With spring in the air, beet carpaccio is a perfect appetizer to celebrate the season. It is light and fresh tasting. I made this last weekend when some friends were coming to our house for a drink before we went out to dinner. I wanted to have something to nibble on but I didn’t want it to ruin our appetites. I only had yellow beets in the crisper drawer so the colour of my carpaccio did not match the original, but the important part is the slicing, not the colour. You want your beets very thin. I find the easiest way to do this is with my mandolin. If you don’t have one you can use a vegetable peeler to create paper-thin slices.
I have also converted this recipe into a salad course for spring dinner parties. In this version, I usually cut the beet in half (or quarters if they are large) and slice them with a knife leaving them thicker than when I am making the carpaccio. Then I toss them with some butter lettuce leaves and the mint vinaigrette. To finish the salad I crumble the goat’s cheese on top and sprinkle with fresh mint and dill.
Beet Carpaccio with Mint Vinaigrette
Serves 6 as an appetizer
750g (1½ pounds) beets, preferably a variety of colours, trimmed
140 g (1 cup) crumbled soft fresh goat cheese
30 ml (2 tbsp) minced shallot
80 ml (⅓ cup) unseasoned rice vinegar
80 ml (⅓ cup) chopped fresh mint
60 ml (¼ cup) walnut oil
7.5 ml (1½ tsp) sugar
30 ml (2 tbsp) chiffonade fresh mint
30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh dill
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place whole beets on sheet (if using both light- and dark-colored beets, place them on separate sheets of foil). Sprinkle beets lightly with water. Fold foil over beets. Bake until beets are tender when pierced with fork, about 40 minutes. Cool on sheet. Peel beets. Beets can be made one day ahead. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice beets very thinly. Slightly overlap slices on serving platter, or 6 individual plates, dividing equally; season with salt and pepper. Whisk vinegar, shallots, chopped mint, oil, and sugar in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over beets. Sprinkle with cheese, chiffonade mint and chopped dill.
adapted from Epicurious.com