This is a Restaurant Reproduction from Little Giant, a wonderful little restaurant on the Lower East Side serving "Seasonal American" food. Sautéing the beet greens in the pancetta may not be how it's done at the restaurant, but we really liked the flavor. Of course, you can simply sauté in olive oil instead.
4 red beets, with greens
2 tablespoons pancetta, cubed
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled Humboldt Fog cheese
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley, chopped fine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove beet greens from beets, wash, remove most of stem. Wrap each beet loosely in foil. Roast for about an hour, until beets are barely soft to touch. When cool enough, remove skin. Set aside, covered.
Meanwhile, toast hazelnuts until skins begin to separate, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, rub skins off and squeeze hazelnuts until they split.
Blanch the beet greens by dropping into rapidly boiling, salted water for about 2 minutes then plunging into ice-cold water and allowing to dry on a towel.
Sauté the pancetta cubes in a medium skillet over medium heat until they render a few spoonfuls of fat. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and share with hungry dinner guests. Drop beet greens into the skillet and sauté for a few seconds, until they wilt. Drain on paper towels.
For dressing, combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Drop in hazelnuts and any crumbled bits or dust from the nuts.
Just before serving, slice beets into wedges and toss gently with dressing and hazelnuts.
To assemble salad, arrange beet greens in the center of a shallow bowl. Place beets and nuts around the greens. Top with a few pieces of crumbled cheese and a generous pinch of chopped parsley.