Spring has sprung! It's official—March 20 is the first day of the season. Here in L.A., a couple of early heat waves mean that we’ve had spring fever for a few weeks already. Warmer weather and later sunsets also help us forgo those roasts for slimmer salads come dinnertime. Chef Danny Elmaleh of West Hollywood's Mercado di Vetro has included a riff on the classic beet salad on the restsaurant’s new spring menu, which was introduced this week. Instead of creamy goat cheese, Elmaleh whips Spanish Valdeón blue cheese to a frothy foam, which helps distribute the pungent flavor to each and every hazelnut, kumquat slice, and crisp sprig of frisée.
(Feeds two people)
2 tablespoon hazelnuts
8 kumquats, thinly sliced
½ ounce Valderon blue cheese
8 sprigs frisée
12 leaves watercress
Sherry vinegar (chef recommends Pedro Ximenez)
Sherry vinaigrette to taste (2 parts Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar
to 1 part oil)
1. Roast beets in oven at 375 degrees, wrapped in silver foil, until tender. Peel and slice into wedges.
2. In a pan, bring 2 parts hazelnut and 1 part sugar to 350 degrees until caramelized. Let cool.
3. Macerate thinly sliced kumquat with Pedro Ximenez in 2:1 ratio.
4. Whip 2 parts blue cheese to 1 part water until foamy.
5. Mix frisée and watercress with sherry vinaigrette.
6. Plate a bowl with hazelnuts first, then frisée and watercress, followed by more hazelnuts, macerated kumquats, blue-cheese foam, and then beets. Top with crumbled blue cheese.