Friday, August 26, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Classic and colourful, beets, goat cheese, and walnuts are natural partners, and when combined together in this striking salad, score top marks in both looks and flavour. Traditionally known for their dark crimson hue, these nutrient-rich root vegetables also come in shades of gold and white. Naturally low in calories and fat, b
eets have such a distinct sweet earthiness, I don’t know why so many people don’t like them. When they're in abundance, I like to buy beets two or three times a month and serve them in a salad or pureed as a chilled cold beet soup, such as Chlodnik, my spectacular summer soup recipe that I featured in an earlier blog. 

Beets can be steamed, boiled, pickled, roasted, or eaten raw, and because they contain more natural sugar than starch, they are particularly delicious oven roasted, which brings out their natural sweetness. Bunches of both red and golden yellow beets can usually be found at local farmer's markets and the contrast in colors by using both, is like sunshine on a plate. This is a great salad for entertaining, as everything can be prepped ahead easily and put together at the last minute. Sweet candied walnuts, tangy goat cheese and fresh mixed salad greens, drizzled with a tangy orange vinaigrette and topped with some chopped chives and orange zest, is nothing less than sublime. 

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Candied Walnuts 
& Citrus Vinaigrette
Makes 6 appetizer salads 

For the Citrus Vinaigrette:
1/2 shallot, minced

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tbsp finely orange zest, for garnish
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chopped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
1/2 pound small to medium beets, stems trimmed and scrubbed

1 bag Baby Greens 

1 log (4 oz.) fresh goat cheese

1/2 cup candied walnuts

For the candied walnuts:
1/3 cup golden brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp butter
Large pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups walnut halves

For the beets: Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until the tip of a sharp knife easily slides through the beets, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, use plastic gloves to peel the beets. Cut into bite size pieces.

For candied walnuts: 
Combine the first four ingredients together in a large heavy skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking. Let boil 1 minute. Stir in walnuts, then toss until the syrup forms a glaze on the nuts, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to a foil covered cookie sheet and quickly separate nuts with forks. Let cool. Let stand at room temperature. Note: This can be made 2 hours ahead.

For the citrus vinaigrette: In small bowl whisk together the first eight ingredients until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover until ready to use.

For the salad: Divide the salad leaves equally among the plates. Top with the beets and then drizzle with the vinaigrette to taste. Crumble the goat cheese on top and garnish with candied walnuts and orange zest.