Last weekend was a whirlwind, thanks to a roughly 36-hour trip down to LA for a dear friend’s wedding. I could go on and on about the wedding itself, but I’m here to write about food so am going to cut myself off RIGHT NOW before I go down the rabbit hole of wedding fantasyland. We ate well both nights, which, let’s be honest, is somewhat unusual as weddings go. The Mediterranean/California fusion menus were ingredient-driven, seasonal, and mildly innovative yet straightforward enough to appeal to the hundreds of captive diners.
Due to unfortunate work schedules, we had to skedaddle back up to the Bay Area before the main course was served. Entranced by the first dance, speeches, and salad course, I looked at my watch and was shocked at how fast time was flying. Soon, a catering attendant was shoving into my arms two salmon entrées to-go as we rushed out to pick up our luggage from the valet and slip into a waiting taxi.
The to-go boxes were a nice touch, and I managed to keep them intact both while hopping in and out of heels at security, and while undergoing an unnecessary full pat-down and bomb-swabbing. Ravenous, we finally sat down in a café near our gate to eat and watch the basketball game. Recognizing my impending low blood sugar meltdown, George claimed he wanted a hot dog, leaving me to take down – with haste – two portions of wild king salmon with Meyer lemon-green olive salsa and fennel-herb salad. Bless him.
Sleepy and sated on the short plane ride home, I found myself thinking about goat cheese, which naturally led me to thoughts of the carton of goat yogurt I’d picked up on a whim at Whole Foods last week. Years ago, a friend, and incidentally the bride, had introduced me to goat cheese and thus helped spawn my deep and enduring relationship with what is now one of my favorite foods. Goat yogurt is faintly reminiscent of goat cheese, with a slightly grassy (euphemism for goat-y) taste. I love it, but consider yourself warned.
Tangy yogurt is a perfect match for sweet, earthy beets. In fact, I find that I crave acidic and salty components anytime I eat beets. For this salad, a twist on the traditional beet and goat cheese combo, I lightly coat roasted beets in faux-vinaigrette and top them with oregano-spiked yogurt. The salad is not unlike the wedding menu: mildly innovative yet not so far out there that no one will touch it. Keep in mind that red beets stain anything around them, so heed my advice to enjoy this salad cold and top the beets with the yogurt just before serving to avoid a preemptively pretty-in-pink salad.
roasted beet and goat yogurt salad with olives and oregano
4 medium beets, roasted or steamed, cooled, and peeled
3 tsp (1 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp Meyer or regular lemon juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
½ cup goat yogurt
2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
½ cup fresh parsley leaves
In the bottom of a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 tsp olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Add beets and toss to evenly coat. Add kalamata olives and parsley, and gently toss to combine.
In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, oregano, and remaining 1 tsp olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer beets to a serving plate or dish and top with dollops of oregano yogurt. Add a few cracks of pepper over the top for that extra little pop.