Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad

If my grandmother could see me now she probably wouldn't believe what was before her eyes. Beets. On my table. And I'm enjoying them. Perhaps it's her influence leading me down this road; I do live in her house after all. I can remember sitting in this same kitchen refusing to even touch her home-pickled beets. What I wouldn't give to have a bite of her home-canned beets today! Until I figure out how to do pickle them myself this roasted-beet salad will have to do. Something tells me that Maw Maw would be just as happy to see these beets on my table as the ones she prepared.

While I wasn't a fan of beets when I was younger I did always love their crimson hue. I can remember how they would stain my fingertips, and sometimes I'd even rub them across my little lips, pretending to put on lipstick. (It was a quick and dirty way to get around Mama's no-makeup-until-you're-older rule.) Back then their earthy fragrance and their pure-spring taste weren't qualities that interested me. Now I understand the attraction to these colorful orbs. They're pure nature. They taste of mornings in the garden and sun-kissed afternoons. They taste of hard work and dirt under your nails. And they're exactly the kind of treat I expected to find when I signed up for a CSA box.

I found with this salad that maple syrup, orange juice, goat cheese and beets are a wonderful combination. And while I no longer use beets for makeup I was still happy to let them pass over my lips - and right to my tummy. This was a wonderful salad, and one I'll welcome to my table every spring.

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
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In my salad I used walnuts and sunflower seeds, but you can of course use any nut you like best. I think pecans would be lovely. While this orange vinaigrette is quite good I'd also like to try this salad with a raspberry one, and perhaps add mandarin oranges as an accent.

Ingredients
3 to 4 medium-sized beets, unpeeled
Olive oil to rub on beets
1/3 cup walnut halves or pieces
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (optional)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 bag salad greens
2 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub beets in olive oil, then cover each one in foil and place on a cookie sheet. Alternately, you can place each oil-rubbed, foil-covered beet in the cup of a muffin tin. Roast about an hour, or until you can easily pierce the flesh of each beet with a knife. Set aside to cool until you can handle them, then cut off top and bottom, and slide skins off. Chop and set aside. (Leftover beets can be stored in the refrigerator.)
2. Over medium heat, add nuts to skillet and toast until just brown. Do not walk away from the stove or you'll run the risk of burning and ruining your walnuts. Pour syrup over hot nuts and stir to combine. Remove skillet from heat and allow nuts to cool. When you can handle them pick them up, break them apart, and set aside. (Leftover nuts can be stored in an air-tight container.)
3. In a small bowl, whisk orange-juice concentrate, vinegar and oil.
4. Plate your greens. Top with nuts, beets and crumbled goat cheese. Pour dressing over salad and serve.