Warm Beet Salad with Goat Cheese-Filled Phyllo Purse

The aesthetic appeal of this salad relies heavily upon a range of colours in the beets, so aim to combine on the palate as many varieties as possible (candy cane, golden, red cylinder, white, and so on). As for the flavours in play, every beet loves the company of goat cheese. We enhance that classic combination by wrapping the lightened goat cheese in the flaky crunch of a phyllo pastry purse. Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:
  • 9 oz (250g) – fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) minced sage
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) – minced parsley
  • Pinch of minced rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pack (16 oz/454 g) – phyllo pastry
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) – butter, melted
  • 20 to 24 young beets, 2 lb (1kg) total, baked & peeled
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) – maple-walnut vinaigrette
  • Approximately 18 pieces oven-dried tomato
  • 1 handful per person arugula (rocket) or red leaf lettuce
BEETS:

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Place beets in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss well until evenly coated. Place on the lower rack of the oven for 45 mins. After 15 mins, turn the beets and lower the temperature to 350°F (180°C). Remove from oven, cool to room temp and peel.

MAPLE-WALNUT VINAIGRETTE:

Combine 6 tbsp maple syrup, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp walnut oil and salt and pepper. Whisk all ingredients together. Makes 1 cup.

RECIPE METHOD:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
  2. In a bowl mash the goat cheese with the sage, 1 tsp (5 mL) of the parsley, and the rosemary, and season lightly.
  3. Working quickly, cut the phyllo into six 9-by-12-inch (22.5 by 30 cm) sheets and stack them under a damp kitchen towel.
  4. Remove one sheet and brush it with melted butter, top with a second sheet, brush again with butter, and then do the same with a third sheet.
  5. Cut the three-ply sheet lengthwise into strips about 3 inches (8 cm) wide. Return two three-ply strips to rest under the damp towel.
  6. Arrange one three-ply strip so that it faces away from you. Place a heaping tablespoonful of seasoned goat cheese towards the left hand side of the strip, about 1/2 inch (1 cm) in from the edges.
  7. Fold the right comer up at a 45-degree angle to cover the cheese. Then flip the cheese envelope upward so that the bottom of the strip is straight again.
  8. Continue folding until the cheese is completely scaled in a triangular package. Place the package flap side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat to make five more packages.
  9. Brush the cheese purses with melted butter, sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and bake until golden – 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, cut the beets into segments, then toss them with half the vinaigrette and arrange on a large platter. Scatter tomatoes and lettuce over the beets and then finish with the cheese purses. Serve with the extra dressing on the side.

Substitutions: A lemon-garlic or even sherry-shallot vinaigrette are perfect substitutions for the maple-walnut vinaigrette.