Beets are ubiquitous on Sacramento menus, typically appearing in salads we’ve all seen before. But few chefs get as creative with this humble root vegetable as Scott Macumber of Taylor’s Kitchen. “I wanted to create something that looked visually appealing and bright and colorful,” says Macumber of his roasted beet and pear salad. “People say it looks like Dr. Seuss on a plate because of all the colors and contrasts.”
Macumber starts by preparing a beet puree, which involves sweating yellow onions until translucent, adding chopped beets and cream, and simmering until the beets break down. Once it’s blended and cooled, a stripe of magenta puree is painted across the plate.
Next, Macumber separately braises three types of beets—red, gold and the bull’s-eye-striped Chioggia variety—in white wine, citrus, bay leaves, peppercorns and water until tender. Afterward, the beets are roasted to deepen their color, then chilled.
Macumber pickles sliced grapes, roasts quartered turnips and slices red Bartlett pears. All of those ingredients are tossed with the braised beets in a bright champagne vinaigrette and piled on the plate, then topped with a fistful of lightly dressed leafy greens grown by Aldon’s in Fair Oaks.
Macumber finishes the dish with disks of paper-thin gold and striped beets—“for crunch”—and a perfectly soft six-minute egg that has rested briefly in the red beet braising liquid. “The egg adds a fatty richness to help cut the earthiness of the beets and the acidity of the pickled grapes and the dressing,” explains Macumber.
“To be honest, I’m not usually a big vegetable eater, but I do love beets,” admits the chef. And so do his customers. “We’re selling a lot of the salads. In fact, I’ve got a couple of weekly customers who order it every time they come in.”