This salad is really the blueprint for a beet salad you can pair with any green, nut or seed plus a tangy dressing, goat cheese, and beets. We’ve actually made a version of this with arugula & sunflower seeds, and while the recipe calls for walnuts we used pecans in a pinch. Use whatever you have on hand!
I like to cook the beets in advance, just wrap them in foil without remove the skin, tops, or bottoms. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, let cool and then the skins just pop right off. If I know I’m making the salad for dinner, I’ll do this earlier in the day so I have plenty of time to prep. You can also steam the beets if you’re short on time. Just peel and slice them, then steam for about 7 minutes. A common mistake when steaming or boiling beets is to over-cook! Believe it or not beets have one of the highest sugar content of any vegetable, and you’ll want to bring out that natural sweetness when cooking them. What happens when beets are cooked in water for too long is that the sugars begin to dissolve into the water, and then the beets aren’t as sweet.
The dressing is really easy to mix, just 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil with an emulsifier and some seasoning. A pint jar with a lid is great for mixing salad dressings. Good vinegar is worth having in the kitchen – really it makes a huge difference in so many vegetable recipes. We used a Muscatel Vinegar, but you could use a good white wine, or white balsamic vinegar, or even a rice wine vinegar. I wouldn’t use a red wine or brown balsamic vinegar for beet salads I think the flavor overpowers the beets.
Beet, Goat Cheese, & Escarole Salad
2 large beets (about 1lb)
½ Head of Escarole or Lettuce
1 cup of coarsely chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
4 oz Chevre Goat Cheese
1/3 cup Vinegar (Muscatel, White Wine, or White Balsamic)
2/3 cup neutral salad oil – sunflower oil or olive oil
1 clove finely grated garlic
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
pinch of salt
Cook the beets. Preheat the oven to 400°F . Wash beets and wrap in foil whole. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool, then remove skins and slice. Or, wash and peel beets with a vegetable peeler, steam for about 7 minutes.
Mix dressing in a small glass jar with a lid and shake.
Wash and coarsely chop the escarole. Toss the escarole with the dressing, arrange on a platter, and top with the beets, nuts, and cheese.