Chicago was one of the cities that I meant to visit years before I actually did.
I don’t know why it took me so long. Perhaps I spent too much money visiting Boston. But at some point, I had too many good friends from both California and DC living in Chicago to not visit.
So I went last October. And miraculously, I saw each person that I had been wanting to visit for years. They, mostly from a number of different social circles, showed me something about Chicago that they loved. And that, ladies and gentleman, is how to visit a new city.
A happy couple, Nick and Steffi, having recently married and recently developed a taste for going to really, really good restaurants, brought me to the Purple Pig — a small plates type restaurant that pretty much knew exactly what I wanted to eat.
One of the first dishes is something that stuck with me — and it was something I knew I could revive as a moment when I returned to DC. This. Dish.
Roasted Beets, Whipped Goat Cheese, and Pistachio
3 or 4 medium-sized beets
1/4 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cream cheese
Lightly toasted pistachios, for topping
First, heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the greens and the ends from your beets with a sharp knife. Rinse them thoroughly, as beets usually have some dirt stuck in their skins, especially if they have a crack or two. Then, wrap the beets in a large piece of foil — some people like to roast each beet in its own foil (I imagine they would roast faster) but I wrapped them all together. I added about 1 tablespoon of water to the foil packet, and folded and sealed the foil so that it would release a minimal amount of steam.
Place your foiled beets on a baking sheet or pan with a rim (in case the foil leaks), and bake in the oven for about 60 minutes, until you can easily stick a fork into the center of the vegetable. When the beets are finished, open the foil and let them cool until you can comfortably hold one in your hand.
Over the sink, rub the beets to peel off the skin — this should happen easily. If the skin doesn’t rub right off, the beets should go back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
As you let the beets fully cool, combine your goat cheese, yogurt, and cream cheese in a small mixing bowl, and whisk or beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy — about 5-6 minutes. Serve beets with a dollop of your whipped goat cheese, and top generously with pistachios.