If I had to think carefully about when I was converted to beets I’d probably trace the moment back to a beet salad I had at a little bistro on Greenville Ave in Dallas. I wouldn’t have normally ordered it, but there was a snafu with my entrée and it seemed like a good option. Since then I’ve been ordering beet salads like they’re going out of style.
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to try making one until we were sitting in a new restaurant in our neighborhood and once again the salad called out to me from the top of the menu. Inspiration struck and I realized that I could probably recreate some of the flavors at home.
I consulted Ina (of course), but also a few other sources and my trusty Flavor Bible (that’s really what it’s called) until I figured out the best process to achieve what I wanted. The end result: cool beets, a vinaigrette with bright acidity and a little cheese to round it all out.
Beet Salad with Arugula, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts (serves 4 generously)
2 medium red beets, tops removed and scrubbed
2 medium golden beets, tops removed and scrubbed
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted
4 cups baby arugula greens, washed and dried
2 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for roasting
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rubber gloves (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the beets on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and toss with the olive oil. Fold the edges of the foil together to form a packet. Roast for 60 – 75 minutes or until a knife inserted into the largest beet meets no resistance.
Allow beets to cool enough to handle and then remove the skins by rubbing gently with a paper towel. (The beets will stain your hands, so gloves are a good idea for this step!)
Cut the beets in ½ inch chunks and place them in a large bowl. Toss with 2-3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour until cold.
Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry sauté pan until golden. Allow to cool; then coarsely chop. In a separate bowl, toss the arugula greens with the remaining vinaigrette.
Arrange the dressed greens and beets on a plate and top with the toasted hazelnuts, and crumbled goat cheese.
Whisk together the raspberry vinegar, champagne vinegar, chopped thyme leaves, salt & pepper. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified.
Small Kitchen Friendly:
Yes, especially since it was conceived in a small kitchen! I used one baking sheet, one large bowl, one medium bowl, and a small sauté pan. I also used a liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, a chef’s knife, a whisk, and one medium cutting board.
Mike and I both loved the intense sharpness of the vinaigrette balanced against the creaminess of the goat cheese, and the dense flavor of the roasted beets pairs so nicely with the toasted hazelnuts. I recommend serving with a few pieces of toasted baguette for an additional crunch. I’d love to try new versions of this salad combining different types of cheese – perhaps homemade ricotta, or gorgonzola? – and some alternate toasted nuts like pistachios or walnuts.