I have always thought that beets and corn taste very good together. So I thought instead of using regular corn, what if I used popcorn in a beet salad? I figured the popcorn would add a starchy element and the sweetness of the popcorn and beets would contrast nicely with the saltiness of bacon, too.
Preheat the oven to 345ºF. In a medium bowl, toss the beets, 5 sprigs thyme, jalapeño, cloves, bay leaves, and 2 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil and sprinkle with salt.
Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with foil and roast for 2 hours. Check the beets by inserting a small knife into one of them; if it goes in easily, the beets are done. If not, return to the oven to roast for another 20 to 30 minutes. Let the beets cool slightly, then peel and chop into ½-inch dice (about the size of the popcorn). Set aside.
Remove the leaves from the remaining sprig of thyme and combine with the ricotta and remaining 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over a medium flame until crisp. Remove the bacon from the skillet, reserving the fat in the pan. Let the bacon cool slightly, then chop very finely so it is
In a large bowl, toss the popcorn with 1 teaspoon of the bacon fat and sprinkle with the bacon dust.
Divide the beets among 4 serving plates. Scatter the ricotta mixture around the beets and sprinkle the bacon popcorn on top. Lastly, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.