(Warm Beet Salad - recipe in post)
Beets are sweet. They're earthy. They're vibrant. How can anyone not love them? By growing up with nothing but canned and pickled beets, that's how.
If you've never had fresh, roasted beets, please reserve judgment. They are jewels of sweetness, and with a drizzle of balsamic, or a pinch of salt, they are simply divine. Pulled from the earth like diamonds chiseled out of the rough, like burried treasure; they are flavor and healthfullness manifest.
Of course, if you really do detest them, you can substitute them in this salad with other root vegetables - freshly roasted carrots, parsnips, or radishes. Each affects the same rich, sweet quality you just can't find anywhere else.
A warm spin on Greek flavors, this would be perfect for the fall or winter, combining end-of-the-season ingredients in one sweet and savory dish. Fall is still a long way off, though, and the beets were calling to me - I couldn't wait. My impatience was well rewarded, as I watched The Boyfriend devour bowl after bowl of this salad. In between mouthfuls he gave a stream of compliments; Thumbs up! Five stars! Homerun! The flow of praise was unending, and even days later he reminds me how incredible it was. This is a recipe I will surely be making again and again.
Warm Beet Salad
Serves 2-3 - vegetarian, easily made vegan
4 TBSP olive oil, divided
3-4 medium beets, red or golden
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 shallot, thinly sliced or diced
1/2 orange, juiced
1 TBSP aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup kalamata (or other) olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 head radicchio, thinly sliced
1 large handful baby arugula, washed and dried
Goat cheese, or feta, to taste (optional)*
Salt, to taste
*To make the dish vegan, simply omit the cheese. However, if dairy is okay, do not shy away from it here! The salty, earthy flavor of the cheese is the perfect complement to this dish.
Preheat oven to 400f.
Wash and peel beets, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with 2 TBSP olive oil, and a large pinch of salt. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until fork tender.
Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until warm and fragrant. Set aside.
In the remaining olive oil, saute the shallot. Add the orange juice and balsamic, and toss in the beets, chopped olives, and half of the pine nuts. Pour over the radicchio and arugula, and toss to combine. Garnish with the rest of the pine nuts, and top with cheese. Serve warm.