Golden Beet Tower with Cucumbers, Fresh Goat Cheese with a Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

Creating towers out of food is a very simple indulgence. Just choose your favorite ingredients and get inspired! An added bonus, this restaurant-style presentation is a wonderful way for children to get involved in meal preparation and “play” with their food. This combination of flavors is a great way to showcase your garden; beets provide a sweet, earthy flavor, cucumbers provide a refreshing crunch and the basil in the vinaigrette is a perfect complement. I grilled the beets inside on a cast iron grill, but baking them in the oven is another option.  This recipe calls for regular balsamic vinegar, but if you want a nice green color (from the addition of the basil), use a white balsamic vinegar. Ingredient amounts will make 6 to 8 towers depending on how thick the slices of beets and cucumbers are cut.

Ingredients

Beets and Cucumbers
4 large organic golden beets, peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil (if choosing to grill)
Non-stick cooking spray (if choosing to bake)
4 oz. of a mini log of organic fresh goat cheese
1 organic cucumber peeled and sliced
8 organic basil sprigs for garnish (optional)
Vinaigrette
1/2 cup of organic basil
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of organic balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
A sprinkle of kosher salt

Technique

Slice the beet into slices about a 1/8 inch thick. If you are choosing to grill the beets, toss the beet slices with two tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper. Place on a grill over low heat and grill for 30 minutes. Check frequently and turn them a couple of times so they don’t burn. Once done remove beets and place onto a paper towel to blot any extra oil. If you are choosing to bake the beets, spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and place sliced beets evenly onto sheet. Spray the top of all the beet slices with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. While beets are grilling or baking create the drizzle. Rinse and remove the stems from the basil, reserve 8 leaves if choosing to garnish. Add all vinaigrette ingredients to a blender or a Magic Bullet. Blend until smooth and set aside to drizzle after the towers are assembled. Assemble towers by placing a beet slice on a plate and add a cucumber slice, a teaspoon of fresh goat cheese, another beet slice, another cucumber slice then another teaspoon of fresh goat cheese. Top with one more beet slice and a small dollop of fresh goat cheese. Garnish with basil sprig. Or create the tower your way – have fun and enjoy!

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