Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula
A Balance of Sweet, Green, Creamy and Salty
Taken from Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books, © 2015, priced $29.95. Photography by Tara Fisher. Reprinted with permission.
- Servings: 4.
Beets are available year-round making this a versatile salad to have any time. It's particularly good in the summer when the Greenmarket has sweet baby red and golden beets, but it's almost as flavorful in the fall and winter. Just avoid buying any beets that seem old and may have been sitting too long in the produce market bin.
I recommend using the Thomas Keller (The French Laundry and Bouchon) way to cook beets, by roasting them with a little water and olive oil. But if you prefer to cook them stovetop, in water, that's fine, too.
You can cook the beets -- which is the only time-consuming part of this recipe -- up to a day in advance and refrigerate until you're ready to make the salad. Just be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving.
- 6 to 8 small to medium beets (enough to have about 4 cups once trimmed and peeled -- about 1 1/2-pounds)
- 4 to 6 cups baby arugula, washed and torn into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese, such as Montrachet
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or tangerine juice
- Preheat the oven to 375º F.
- Scrub the beets and trim off the tops, leaving about 1/4-inch attached. Do not peel them. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons water, 1/4-teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.
- Fold up the ends of the foil to make a sealed envelope around the beets. Place it on a sheet pan and roast for about 1 hour until tender (test with a knife; if the blade cuts easily, they are done). If the beets are larger, it could take another 30 minutes or so to cook and likewise, if they're baby beets, they may be done in only 30 minutes.
- Unwrap the foil and let the beets sit until cool enough to handle. Peel and cut them into large, bite-sized pieces.
- Place in a bowl and while still warm, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Set aside to cool completely.
- Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a dry sauté pan or skillet over a moderate heat. Watch them carefully because they can easily burn. When the pine nuts become golden brown, remove them from the heat and transfer to a small bowl because they will continue to cook in the hot pan. Hold aside.
- When ready to assemble the salad, place the arugula and sliced red onion into your serving bowl.
- Separately, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or tangerine juice, a generous pinch of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Use a fork or whisk to combine until the salt dissolves. Add the olive oil and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning and degree of acidity/oiliness.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the peeled, cut and cooled beets. Toss to coat.
- Pour 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the arugula and red onion and toss to combine. Add more if needed.
- Place the dressed beets in a mound on top of the dressed arugula.
- Sprinkle with the goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.
- Serve immediately.
Tip: This recipe suggests using goat cheese, but it works equally well with your favorite blue cheese or feta. Just choose a cheese that has lots of flavor so that it can stand up to the other ingredients, plus one that has a creamy texture to meld with the vinaigrette.
Tip: Another variation of this salad is to use walnuts instead of pine nuts and then substitute walnut oil in place of half of the olive oil. Resist using all walnut oil because it is very rich and strong-flavored and can cause your salad to be off-balance.