To avoid ruby-red hands, peel beets under running water. Prepare and chill the salad a day or two ahead to allow the flavors to meld. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, and prepare cheese mixture and chop basil right before serving.
2 1/2 pounds small beets
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely shredded sharp provolone cheese
2 teaspoons hot water
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
How to Make It
Leave root and 1 inch of stems on beets; scrub with a brush. Pierce each beet 2 times with a sharp knife. Place beets in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag, and seal halfway. Microwave at HIGH 20 minutes or until tender, rotating bag every 5 minutes. Remove bag from microwave; cool to room temperature. Remove beets from bag; reserve liquid in bag. Peel beets, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Combine reserved liquid, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add beets, onion, and serrano; toss gently to coat.
Combine ricotta, provolone, and hot water, stirring well. Sprinkle salad with basil; top with cheese mixture.
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