Keith Luce's Pickled Beet Salad with Amaranth and Hazelnuts
- SERVINGS: 4 first-course servings
- 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 medium beets (about 7 ounces total), peeled and coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1 jalapeñohalved lengthwise, seeded and minced
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts (about 2 1/2 ounces)
- 1 cup amaranth or quinoa (about 6 ounces)
- 2 medium Bosc pears
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 1 large Belgian endive, cored and sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
- 2 teaspoons hazelnut oil
- Crispy fried slivered leeks (optional)
- Put the yogurt in a strainer set over a medium bowl and let drain in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 2 days. Transfer the yogurt cheese to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the beets, red wine, vinegar, brown sugar and jalapeño. Simmer over low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast eh hazelnuts on a baking sheet for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Coarsely chop the nuts.
- In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the amaranth, stir well and cover. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the amaranth is tender and the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Season teh amaranth with salt and pepper and let cool, stirring once or twice.
- Light a charcoal grill or preheat a grill pan. Peel, quarter and core the pears. Coat them with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or pan-sear the pears over moderate heat until lightly charred, about 3 minutes per side. Let cool, then cut the pears into 1-inch pieces.
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, the chives and the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the endive, pears and 1/4 cup of the toasted hazelnuts, toss well and season with salt and pepper.
- Set four 3 1/2- to 4-inch ring molds or four 4-ounce cans that are open at both ends on a baking sheet. Drain the pickled beets, reserving the liquid. Spoon the endive salad into the molds, pressing gently to form the bottom layer. Spread the yogurt cheese over the salad in each mold and top with a heaping tablespoon of the pickled beets and 1/3 cup of the amaranth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 30 minutes.
- Slide a metal spatula underneath a molded salad and transfer to a plate. Pressing gently on the center of the salad, lift the mold up and off the salad. Repeat with the remaining salads. Garnish each plate with little mounds of the remaining pickled beets and scatter the toasted hazelnuts around. Drizzle the reserved beet liquid and the hazelnut oil around the salads, top with the crisp leeks and serve.
Pair with Geyser Peak Johannisberg Riesling or Gundlach-Bundschu Gewürztraminer, both from California.