I may have mentioned before that neither my husband nor I are especially fond of beets. So I when I get beets in my weekly CSA bag, I typically use them as an ingredient in a recipe, particularly in dessert types like Chocolate Beet Cake, Beet Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, or Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes. However, I recognize that our tastes can change as we get older so every now and then I try to taste foods that I don’t like. Tonight, I made a salad with roasted beets—of course I dressed up the salad with candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and a drizzling of orange balsamic vinaigrette—but this salad was good! The bold flavors in this salad married well together and were so tasty that I dare say I’m actually looking forward to my next batch of CSA beets.
This flavorful salad has several components. You can easily make any of these components ahead of time, though, and quickly assemble your salad when you’re ready.
Beets, scrubbed and leaves trimmed
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil per beet
Maple Candied Walnuts:
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups walnuts
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Lettuce (Romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, arugula, spinach, or mixed greens), cleaned and cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces
Other salad vegetables, as desired (such as thinly sliced radishes, cucumbers, celery, shallots, grated carrots)
1/2 cup gorgonzola (or blue cheese)
To roast the beets, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat the beets slightly with olive oil. Wrap each in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until cooked through, approximately 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, unwrap the beets from the aluminum foil. Using a small paring knife and plastic food prep gloves (to avoid staining your hands), peel the beets. Cut them into slices or wedges as you prefer. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare the maple candied walnuts, mix together the cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
In a saute pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the nuts, stirring frequently until slightly fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spice mix and stir to coat. Carefully add the maple syrup and stir to coat. Remove from heat and transfer the nuts to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. With a spoon or fork, separate and spread the nuts into a single layer and allow to cool.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange zest, juice, balsamic vinegar, and honey in a small bowl. Whisk vigorously as you slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble the salad, place the lettuce and salad vegetables in a serving dish. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle with gorgonzola (about 1 tablespoon per serving) and candied walnuts. Top with roasted beets and serve.
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups