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We are back from our fantastic week in Colorado. Friends, family, majestic mountains, intimate gatherings, big red wines, stinky stilton, Ric’s excruciatingly delicious cheesecake (so good it hurts) and just about all of the indulgence I could handle. So now it is time for a little lightening up and cleansing after the holidays.

Here is a beautiful salad that is very healthy and still hearty, including the benefits of beets which help to cleanse the system, may help to reduce the risk of colon Cancer, lower cholesterol and they contain a compound, betaine, that can reduce inflammation in the joints (for more about beets, click here). I’m also using a French Bucheron goat cheese from the Loire Valley in Central France, which can be used cold, or as I did, rolled in Panko crumbs and sautéed in olive oil.

French Bucheron and Beet Salad
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

10 small beets of assorted colors
1 large head of butter lettuce, washed, dried and broken into bite-size pieces
2 rounds of Bucheron goat cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 cups croutons, homemade or store bought
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon mustard
2 pinches of Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional olive oil for sautéing cheese

Wash unpeeled beets, dry, loosely wrap in foil and roast in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, open the foil and allow beets to cool enough to be handled. Once they are cool enough to pick up, run under water and pull off the outer layer of skin, dry and set beets aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, Herbs de Provence and salt and pepper until emulsified and combined.

Set out 6 salad plates, placing a mound of lettuce on each plate. Quarter the beets and arrange on the plates and then toss a handful of croutons on each salad.

Cut the Bucheron cheese in wedges, six wedges per round. Dip each wedge into the milk and then into the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs into the cheese.
Heat additional olive oil in a small sauté pan until it is hot but not smoking. Arrange the cheese wedges in the pan and sauté, turning to brown on both sides, which should take only a few minutes. Place browned Bucheron wedges on top of salads, two per salad. Drizzle salads with the dressing and serve.

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