Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Walnuts

It’s funny how when the weather turns crummy, most people turn to heavy stews soups and casseroles. They bust out the slow cooker and cook up a big old hunk of beef with a side of potatoes and gravy. But for me, when winter comes, I long for the easy food. Quickly tossed together salads with winter citrus based dressing so I can get back under the blanket on the couch with my lover and our little ones.  There’s nothing in this world of food I love more than a big, juicy, crispy salad covered in vegetables, cheese and avocado. Add in some seriously addictive candied nuts and I am in food heaven.

Have I ever mentioned that I lived on salads for practically five years. From high school to marriage I ate nothing but salads. Salads were my comfort food for I had exhausted my allowance of real comfort foods during the first 18 years of my life. Here I was, 20 years old, single, having lost 65 pounds and I was determined to never see that side of the scale again. So salads were my friend. I learned to make a million different salads. I became known for them. Elaine’s “Big Salad” from Seinfeld? She ain’t got nothing on me and my notorious salads.

I am sorely opposed to doctoring food for photos, but often I must halve my portion of salad on my plate so that the picture doesn’t look like a mountain of greens and toppings. A small salad placed gingerly on a plate is much more appealing, n’est pas?

So yes, I’ve done a beet salad (Wow. Don’t mind the hideous photos). Actually, a couple of beet salads. But this beet salad is the king of them all. Simple, elegant and easy. It is merely the classic of all classics for beet salads, with my own spin on the dressing. One should never mess with simplicity if that simplicity exudes perfection.

The only part that will take you time is the nuts, and they are quite simple. But I warn you to stay away from them while they are cooling, or you might not have any left for your salad. The portion of nuts that are called for in the recipe will probably be too many for two servings, but if you are anything like me, the extra will be gone by the time dinner is served.

One year ago: Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Mocha Frosting

Two years ago: Cochinita Pibil

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Walnuts

Yield: Two entrée servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 minutes

For the Beets:
8 small beets
1 tsp grapeseed oil

For the Nuts:
1 cup walnut halves
1 tbs butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
dash of cinnamon
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp maple syrup

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup plain 0% Greek yogurt
2 tbsp maple syrup
juice of one Meyer lemon
zest and juice of one lime
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
fresh cracked pepper
sea salt

To Assemble the Salads:
Spring mix, arugula or whichever mixed greens you prefer (bitter greens do well with the beets and the sweeter dressing)
75g fresh goat’s cheese (chèvre)
1/2 an avocado, cubed
the candied walnuts
the dressing
the roasted beets

1. For the Beets: In a roasting dish, toss the unpeeled beets with the oil. Bake at 400°F for 50 minutes or until the flesh gives easily when pierced with a small knife.
2. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Skins can now be easily removed. Cut beets into bite size pieces and set aside.

3. For the Nuts: Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, salt, paprika and maple syrup. Bring to a simmer and cook for  three minutes.
4. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Cook for another three minutes.
5. Transfer the nuts to a parchment lined baking sheet in one single layer. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Cool and break apart (as it cools over 30 minutes).

7. For the Dressing: Place the yogurt in a bowl and add the maple syrup. Next add the citrus juices and zest, gradually adding and stirring as you go to avoid a clumpy appearance.
8. Add remaining ingredients and set aside. Allow to sit for 30 minutes prior to serving to allow flavours to develop.

9. To Assemble: Lay equal amounts of greens on two plates. Top with the  avocado, goat’s cheese, roasted beets and the candied nuts.
10. Pour dressing over and serve.

Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food blogs:

Roasted Beets with Poblano, Red Onion and Lime from Kitchen Konfidence
Chocolate Beet Cake from Veggie Belly
Golden Beet and White Chocolate Mousse Parfait from Yum & Yummer
Beet and Chèvre Ravioli Hearts from Petite Kitchenesse
Brilliantly Beet Smoothie from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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