Smashed and Seared Beets with Chimichurri and Goat Cheese Crema

This recipe is one of my most cherished souvenirs. I picked it up when I worked at Farmstead, an inspiring restaurant in the Napa Valley that defines farm-to-table cuisine with its own organic farm and a menu that follows the farm’s lead. This dish is bold, bright and brilliant—a truly unique beet preparation. During my time at Farmstead, I watched it fly off the line, and many guests came back with a plea for the recipe. Now you get to have it—well, at least my adapted version. There are several components to this dish, but you can make them all in advance—and the herb-packed chimichurri dressing is even better when you do (I recommend making it at least two hours ahead). Just hold off on searing the beets until it is time to serve them.

By / Photography By Matthew Benson | June 14, 2016


1. Whisk together the goat cheese, cream and a pinch of salt in a medium-size bowl. Cover the crema with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.

2. Place the beets, 5 cups of water, the cider vinegar, garlic, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a steady simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beets are tender at their center when pierced with a paring knife, 35–50 minutes, depending on their size.

3. Remove the beets from the poaching liquid and let them cool to the touch. Discard the bay leaf. Use a paring knife to trim extra-long tails. If you wish, cut off the tops just under the stem. One at a time, place the beets between 2 salad plates and press down just enough to smash and slightly flatten but not break the beets. (Don’t worry if they do break apart or if some skin peels off as you handle them.)

4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat until it begins to glisten. Add the beets and let them cook undisturbed, flipping just once, until the skin is crispy and caramelized, 3–4 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Spread the goat cheese crema in the center of a serving bowl or divide it among individual plates. Pile the beets on the goat cheese crema and spoon the chimichurri generously over them. Top with the arugula and another drizzle of chimichurri.

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  • ½ cup (4 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream Fine sea salt
  • 1½ pounds small to medium beets
  • 1¼ cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chimichurri
  • 4 cups baby arugula
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