Photo: Carina Salvi

High in sugar, low in calories; what’s not to love about beets? The fresh variety, available in a range of deep, earthy colors at your neighborhood Greenmarket, has a sharper flavor and crisper texture than the canned specimens you were force-fed as a child. They’re also fairly bursting at the seams with potassium, iron, and folate. If that doesn’t persuade you to eat your beets, then maybe this boldly flavored, buttery recipe from Sweetwater chef Paul Williams—who concocted it at Lilette with New Orleans chef John Harris—will.

Paul Williams’s New Orleans–Style Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
2 pounds medium-size beets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Creole spice*
Stick of butter
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
8 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup chives, sliced into 1-inch-long pieces

* For the Creole spice:
In a small bowl, mix together and set aside:1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Illustrations by John Burgoyne.

Prepare Creole spice.
(1) In a large pot, boil beets until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes to an hour depending on beet size. Drain, let cool slightly, and
(2) peel. Tip: Wear latex gloves and gently rub off the skin while beets are still warm. Preheat oven to broil. (Note: If a more charred flavor is desired, beets may also be grilled.)
(3) Slice in 1/4-inch-thick rounds, drizzle with half the olive oil, generously dust with Creole spice, and marinate for about 20 minutes. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and toast the walnuts in the butter for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, taking care not to burn the butter or the walnuts. Strain melted butter into a large bowl, reserving the walnuts. Add the rest of the olive oil and the vinegar to the butter; whisk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place beets on a cookie sheet and broil (or grill) for approximately 5 minutes, until lightly charred. Remove beets and toss with the walnut-butter vinaigrette. Divide beets onto 4 plates. Crumble 2 ounces of goat cheese over each serving. Top with walnuts and chives.