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Posted Nov 20 2009 10:04pm
This weekend K, his sister, best friend and I went to Venus to celebrate Durga Puja. Durga Puja is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. To summarize our requirements for this celebration, we were each to wear a new item of clothing and eat really good food as a family. Done and done. For one of our starters, we ordered the beet crostini. It was fabulous. Crusty bread crostini, topped with pesto, small diced beets and goat cheese. The moment I tasted it, I knew I was on a mission to recreate this dish!

Beets are a great addition to your diet and are often found in salads. Their sweet flavor seems to pair well with spicy greens like arugula. Many people find them very cumbersome to work with, but peeling the beets and cubing them before they are roasted is faster and a lot less messy! Beets have anti-cancer properties, help reduce inflammation and increase HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol.  They are also rich in folate, essential for mothers-to-be and proper tissue growth. Beets are mostly known for being an excellent blood tonic, meaning they give tired blood a boost so it can deliver oxygen needed for energy and vitality.

Step 1: Beets
  • 1 large beet (or two small beets) peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a bowl, toss together the beets, oil, sea salt and pepper. Arrange beets in a single layer on baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then uncover and bake until tender, stirring occasionally so one side doesn't burn, about 15 minutes more. Let the beets cool as you prepare the pesto. Keep the oven on to toast the crostini.

Step 2: Pesto
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, mashed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and the pine nuts and pulse a few times in a food processor. Add the garlic and pulse a few times more. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor to make sure everything is incorporated. Add the grated cheese and pulse until blended. Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You will have leftovers after you make this particular dish and pesto is great as a topping on roasted vegetables.

Step 3: Crostini
For the crostini, simply take 8 large slices of crusty bread, sliced on a deep diagonal to ensure a large surface area, and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast the bread on an oven rack for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp and browned.

Step 4: Assembly
To assemble, take cooled crostini and spread with a generous layer of pesto. Top with roasted beets, goat cheese and black pepper and sea salt.

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