COMBINE the vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, oil, parsley, cilantro, basil, and cumin in a food processor or blender and puree until they are fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
WHISK together the goat cheese, cream, and a pinch of salt in a medium-size bowl. Cover the crema with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.
PLACE the beets, 5 cups of water, the cider vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, and 1 tsp of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a steady simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beets are tender at their center when pierced with a paring knife, 35 to 50 minutes, depending on their size.
REMOVE the beets from the poaching liquid and let them cool to the touch. Discard the bay leaf. Use a paring knife to trim extra-long tails. If you wish, cut off the tops just under the stem. One at a time, place the beets between 2 salad plates and press down just enough to smash and slightly flatten but not break the beets. (Don’t worry if they do break apart or if some skin peels off as you handle them.)
HEAT the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to glisten. Add the beets and let them cook undisturbed, flipping just once, until the skin is crispy and caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
SPREAD the goat cheese crema in the center of a serving bowl or divide it among individual plates. Pile the beets on the goat cheese crema and spoon the chimichurri generously over them. Top with the arugula and another drizzle of chimichurri.
NOTE: This smashing technique works wonders on boiled unpeeled new potatoes and small Yukon Gold and fingerling potatoes, too. Serve them on their own or with Horseradish Cream and chives.
The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini • Workman Publishing • Photography by Matthew Benson