If you’ve been reading my blog regularly for the last few weeks, you’ll probably have noticed a pattern: salad, dessert, repeat. There’s a good reason for that. In the summer, I eat a lot of salads. Like, most days of the week. And I really like dessert. It’s fun to make, photograph and write about. But don’t get the impression that I eat it everyday, unless you count fruit. I use every opportunity I can to make desserts to give away. Then my family doesn’t overdo desserts too much.
This Roasted Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts and Goat Cheese is one of the examples of the many salads I eat in the summer. I usually make it several times over the course of a few months, and I don’t think I could ever get tired of it.
Beets are definitely one of my favorite vegetables. I like both the red and the golden ones, and using both in this salad makes for a very colorful plate. My favorite way to prepare beets is to roast them. I’ve found this is the least messy way to cook them, plus it enhances the sweetness of the beets. It does take awhile to roast them, which may seem excessive for a salad. But it’s worth it. Plus, if you use a toaster oven, you’ll save energy and avoid heating up the kitchen.
Once the beets are roasted and cooled a bit, the skin should come right off after giving the beet a bit of a rub with some paper towel. If it doesn’t, it means you haven’t roasted them long enough. Stick them back in the oven if you have time.
While the beets are cooking, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. Start with the walnuts. Roast them in a dry skillet until they become fragrant. While the pan is still hot, pour in the maple syrup. It will bubble vigorously, but make sure you stir it around so all the nuts get completely coated. The syrup will harden up quickly.
When the nuts are cool, break up the clumps with your fingers or a wooden spoon. They not only taste great on the salad, but are great for snacking too. You might want to make a few extra for this purpose.
Once the dressing is whisked up, toss the greens and the beets together with it and divide it among the bowls. Top each with the nuts and the goat cheese. I love the salad on its own as an entree, maybe with some fresh bread. It also makes a great starter or side for a fancier dinner party, served with your favorite meat.
- 4 small beets (or 2-3 large beets), ends trimmed (red or golden beets both work)
- ¼ cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup, divided
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cups leafy greens (spring or field mix, arugula, spinach or a combination), washed
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- Heat oven to 400°F. If your beets are large, cut them in half or quarters to reduce roasting time. Place the beets onto a large piece of aluminum foil. Fold the foil into a sealed packet, ensuring to crimp the edges closed. Place foil packet onto a baking sheet. Roast until the tip of a paring knife can be easily inserted into a beet, about 35-40 minutes. Cool slightly until you are able to handle them.
- Rub beets with a clean paper towel to remove the skin. Cut into slices, wedges or cubes and set aside.
- While beets are cooking, roast walnuts in a small, dry non-stick skillet over medium heat. When nuts become fragrant, pour 1 Tablespoons of the maple syrup over the walnuts. Remove from heat and stir walnuts to coat completely with syrup. Allow to cool in the skillet. Break up any clumps of nuts with fingers or wooden spoon.
- Whisk balsamic vinegar, remaining teaspoon of maple syrup, salt and pepper together. Continue whisking vigorously while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Toss this dressing together with the greens to evenly coat.
- Divide greens evenly among 2-4 bowls. Divide the roasted beets, candied walnuts and goat cheese equally to top each bowl of salad. Serve immediately.