Dairy Free Beets Napoleon

A few years ago, visiting with friends in Bethesda, Maryland, we discovered a lovely kosher restaurant, on par with the best New York upscale kosher restaurants, minus New York prices, called Pomegranate (unfortunately, now extinct). The first time there, when I opened the menu, among an array of interesting appetizers, I saw Beets Napoleon. I was shocked! Beets Napoleon, a famous creation of the celebrated chef Wolfgang Puck, contains goat cheese. I was sure of it! I had seen it in Pomegranate kosher grocery store in New York, where they carry all kinds of unimaginable, unbelievable crafted cheeses. But this restaurant is fleishig, it serves meats – how could it be?

When the waiter came over to take our order, I inquired about the ingredients of their Beets Napoleon – what’s in it? “Beets, – was the answer, – duhh…” I got that all right, but what’s inside?  “Inside? Inside where? Oh, in the middle? Just mayo, I think.” Aha! The kashruth issue settled, I ordered it out of pure curiosity.  The stack of paper thin slices of beats layered with something pink and creamy was beautifully presented. “Just mayo” was delightfully garlicky, with a hint of cilantro. The beets, though, were somewhat bland. I made up my mind to reproduce it at home, and the next time our Bethesda friends visited with us, I served Beets Napoleon, my way, and waited for a verdict. The smoky flavor of the beets achieved by baking made all the difference – it was a winner!

Asbly Req 1

So first of all, do not peel young beets! Scrub them very well under running water, but leave the skin on.  A very thin outer layer may come off on its own after they have been baked. Fine, it’s their decision!

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While you are scrubbing the beets, your oven should get up to 350. Place clean beets into a baking dish, cover tightly,  pop into the oven, and forget about them for an hour. This is the only time-consuming step, but I am sure you have plenty of other things to do during this hour.  And if you don’t, you can entertain your kids by watching together how Food Rocks at Epcot Center.

The original Wolfgang Puck’s recipe, copied by everybody, has roasted beets, rather than baked. However, I prefer baking because there is no oil whatsoever, and the beets acquire a nice smoky flavor. Once the beets beep at you, take them out, uncover the dish, and put them aside to cool off. You will see that there is a small amount of beet juice on the bottom of the dish. Guess what makes that creamy stuff pink!

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While the beets are cooling off, you can make the “frosting.”  I don’t use “just mayo,” though;  I prefer Vegenaise.  But this little touch is up to you. You’ll need about one tablespoon of it per one beet.  Drain every drop of beet juice you can collect and mix it with Vegenaise.

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You’ll also need garlic and cilantro. We like lots of garlic, so it’s one large clove per two beets, but if you prefer just a hint, adjust it to your taste.

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Squeeze garlic into the “frosting,” add some salt and pepper, and mix very well to get not only the creamy consistency, but also this beautiful uniform coral pink color, without streaks. And don’t worry if your beets don’t give you much juice – even a few drops will make a lovely color.

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If the beets have cooled sufficiently, start slicing them. You have to slice paper thin, trying to imitate flaky dough. I don’t own a mandoline veggie slicer. Usually my husband is my mandoline slicer, but he was at work, so I had to grit my teeth and do it myself. The hardest part was snapping a photo with the phone in my right hand while holding a beet slice in my left, all the time shooing away two curious cats who were wondering what kind of crazy antics I was up to!

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You can make tall stacks if you want to, and they look gorgeous, especially if you alternate red and golden beet slices, but I only baked three small beets, and it was only for the two of us, so I cut slices for five stacks of three layers each. You have to actually sort them out by size, the largest being on the bottom and the smallest on top, otherwise the entire structure will collapse. Make sure you have equal number of slices in each pile, for the bottom, middle, and top layers.

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Arrange bottom slices on a serving dish close to each other. Spread “frosting” on them and cover them with the next layer. Keep on layering, making sure your stacks are even in size. Spread the remainder of “frosting” on top.

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Sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro on top and around. If you are not ready to serve right away, cover and refrigerate it to preserve the fresh look. Trust me, your guests will be impressed!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 medium to small young beets
  • 3 tablespoons Vegenaise
  • 1 – 2 large garlic cloves, squeezed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chopped cilantro to garnish

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Scrub beets well under running water. Place beets into baking dish, cover tightly, bake for 1 hour.
  • Remove beets when done, set aside to cool.
  • Drain beet juice, mix with Vegenaise, add squeezed garlic, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.  Mix thoroughly to avoid color streaks.
  • Slice beets paper thin, separate into even piles by size.
  • Arrange large slices on serving dish close to each other. Spread creamy mix. Cover with smaller slices. Keep layering to create even stacks.
  • Spread creamy mix on top, garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

 

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. What a cool recipe! I will try this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I am glad you like it, and I hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks beautiful! Maybe you can enlist the cats to help you out with slicing next time 😽😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, right! He actually always wants to help, and that’s why my pictures sometimes come out blurry. She a lazy body. She just strikes a pose and wants everybody to admire her beauty.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Raizel said that she prefers to have the Napoleon veggies, so, we are on our way!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, we experimented and it is in the oven now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great! Let me know when you have the final result and photo ready to post,then I’ll also post mine. Mine is already gone, though, and my husband loved it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It was kind of an unexpected result. I am writing about it now. Stay tuned!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. How exciting! I can’t wait!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ll post mine as soon as I am done cooking for Shabbos. I just took a short break, and now – back to the kitchen!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Dolly, you are going to laugh. The recipe was a success but no one but me ate it. I forgot, no one but me likes things with a creamy texture. That is probably why I only made the lentils in the first place. Such a pity! 😕

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I am sorry – poor Raizel who was so enthusiastic about it! But how did you make it creamy? I thought you were just going to layer your lentils with zucchini slices! Well, whatever you did, I am sure it came out delicious, and I can’t wait to see it.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Raizel was enthusiastic. Truthfully, if I would have used the lentils, it might have been more palatable. But, I ran out of lentils and used tofu instead. I wanted to give it the creamy texture similar to the goat cheese or mayonnaise. Not a good move. It was delicious, but for some one else’s family.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. It happens! Today I made what I thought was totally delicious fake cheese sauce for pasta. I loved it, but my husband valiantly struggled through a very small portion and admitted that it was not to his taste. I’ll still post it, and I am sure some will love it, and some will hate it.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Just so funny because Raizel LOVED making it, just not eating it.😕

        Liked by 1 person

      11. That’s interesting because if she doesn’t like the taste of something she might be making in the future, she won’t be able to adjust the ingredients and the seasoning.

        Like

      12. I think she only liked it in theory. She tasted it as we went along, but once it was made, she didn’t like the texture.😕

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I am talking about the future. I don’t know what your plans for her future are, but I just want to share that a younger sister of a childhood friend of mine, who had been much less functional than the way you are describing Raizel, became an extremely successful caterer in Israel. The older sister, my friend, who had a degree in food management and administration, has structured the business end of it, but it is Lora, the younger one, who’s been cooking for almost 30 years now and is always in demand.

        Like

      14. That is so nice! I think that Raizel likes children and has always wanted to do child care. But, you never know.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. It’s very common for someone like Raizel to like children and to want to take care of them. Child care requires at least minimal education and certification. If she is up to it, when the time comes, that’ll be fantastic! I was telling you about a girl who was barely verbal!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sumith Babu says:

    That looks delicious and vibrant in colours. Loved the presentation in that golden vessel:))

    Like

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