When you think of Argentine food, what comes to mind?
If it’s a juicy slab of beef, you aren’t alone, but chef Fernando Navas, founder of Balvanera in New York City, wants to expand your perception of his home country’s culinary profile, and your idea of what a good vegan dish looks and tastes like.
“It's true,” Navas says. “Our grass-fed cuts and asado are unlike anything in the world—but! Argentines eat vegetables, too.”
Balvanera brings Buenos Aires’ porteña cuisine to NYC’s Lower East Side, serving a dynamic menu of regional favorites including empanadas, chorizo, yellowtail crudo, milanesa de pollo, ancho rib-eye, croquetas de bacalao and more.
To kick off 2023, however, Navas reworking the Balvanera menu in celebration of “Veganuary,” both as a means to help hungry customers stick to their healthy new year’s resolutions and to showcase a lighter, greener side of Argentine food culture.
One of the menu highlights? His remolachas made from burnt beets, ricotta salata, pistachios and garlic chips—and he’s sharing that very recipe below, with step-by-step instructions for our readers.
“Beets can be beautiful any time of year,” Navas says. “With this dish, I took an Argentine-style approach to cooking and gave them a nice char for texture and a rich smokiness. Set against a creamy ricotta salata and the saltiness and crunch of pistachios and garlic chips, it's an easy-to-execute dish that rings all the bells."
This Remolachas recipe calls for fire roasting your beets with a live flame, then cooking them in the oven, and the result is almost too good to be true. It's not actually vegan, given the use of crème fraîche, but it is vegetarian.
This recipe yields four servings, which means you could share it with three loved ones—if you can stand to share at all! It makes for a perfect side dish at your next dinner gathering, or a delightful appetizer, but dont take our word for it! Try chef Navas’ remolachas for yourself.
Beets, smaller sized 1 lbs
Ricotta salata 4 oz
Crème fraîche 3 oz
Pistachios, roasted and broken 2 oz
Garlic, sliced and fried
Red beet leaves, to garnish
Chives, finely minced
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Olive oil, drizzle to finish
Balsamic vinegar (good quality)
Preheat the oven at 400 F.
Fire roast (over live flame) the small beets until dark.
In a bowl, add the small beets and dress them with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.
Place them in a roasting pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes until they are soft in the heart. Set them aside for another 30 minutes covered.
Peel them and set aside.
In a bowl, season beets with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Plate them over a smear of Crème Fraîche, topped with roasted pistachios, fried garlic chips and grated ricotta salata.
Finish them with fresh leaves and minced chives. Best served room temperature. Enjoy!
Visit Balvanera in NYC and online for more delicious Argentine dishes and inspiration.