I am a converted beet lover. It took a good long time for me to reconcile with their earthy taste. I gazed at beets from the sidelines, attracted to their vibrant magenta and ochre hues, aware of their nutrient-rich flesh, yet I shuddered at their earthy flavor. As a cook, I wanted to love them. As a parent, I wanted to serve them. So, I willed myself to eat beets until I learned to appreciate them.
At first, I took baby steps. I nibbled small bites. I dressed them with citrus which tamed their earthiness. I grew bolder and roasted beets in olive oil, discovering that fire and char nicely balanced their robust flavor. My go-to beet became the golden variety, which is pleasantly mild and nuttier than its assertive red cousin. And, eventually, I succeeded. Now, I am a card carrying beet lover, frequently offering them at our dinner table. I serve them roasted with meats, sauteed and tumbled with farro, gratineed or in salads.
This recipe is one of my family’s favorites. The beets marinate in their roasting oil with lemon juice, which is also used to dress the salad.
Marinated Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds red or yellow beets
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
6 cups arugula or mixed baby greens, washed and dried
1/2 cup fresh crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, cut in chiffonade
1/4 cup chopped chives
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Place beets in a baking dish. Pour oil over the beets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover dish tightly with foil. Roast the beets until tender, about 1 hour. Remove beets from baking dish and transfer to a plate to cool. Pour cooking oil into a small bowl and reserve.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin. Cut the beets in 1-inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and vinegar to the reserved oil. Whisk to combine and taste for seasoning. Pour dressing over the beets and gently toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate beets for at least 2 hours or overnight.
To serve, place the arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle half of the dressing over the arugula and toss to combine. Divide among serving plates. Spoon beets into center of the greens. Sprinkle with goat cheese, pistachios, mint and chives. Drizzle with more dressing to taste.
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