Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

This may look like many other salads on this blog but it’s summer and it’s all local and just-picked.  These exquisite golden beets elevate this salad to an other-worldly level of goodness.  They’re so naturally sweet that it’s difficult to go wrong in their preparation.

I think the nicest way to prepare beets while keeping their sweet syrupy juices intact is to roast them whole in foil.  They can be roasted al-dente or totally soft–they only get better with more time in the oven.  Save their leafy tops if they’re green and hearty-looking–they can be boiled and sauteed as a wonderful side dish.

I like to dress the beets a few hours ahead of serving.  This is as easy as a splash of red wine vinegar and a nice coating of extra-virgin olive oil, as well as some salt and pepper.

At the last minute, the greens are dressed with red wine vinegar, agave and extra-virgin olive oil, then topped with crumbled fresh goat cheese (although aged goat cheese or bleu cheese are great as well).

This is a great first course for guests because the beets can be roasted ahead, the salad greens washed in advance, and the plates assembled at the last minute.

 Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

serves 4

1  1b fresh arugula, washed

2 bunches golden beets with 1″ of stem still attached

1 – 1/2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbl red wine vinegar (less if you’re using a very strong one)

1 tsp agave

salt and pepper to taste

A couple hours ahead, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash beets, place them in foil and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Seal and roast for 1 – 1-1/2 hours, depending on their size.

To test for doneness, open the foil and stick in the largest beet–if it passes easily all the way through the beet, they’re all done.  When they’re cool enough to handle, rub off their skins with a paper towel–it will rub off quite easily.

In a bowl, drizzle a teaspoon of oil and a half-teaspoon of red wine vinegar over the beets and season with salt and pepper.  Taste and add salt or vinegar, if necessary.

When ready to serve, dress the salad greens with the remainder of the oil and vinegar, plus a teaspoon of agave.  Add salt and pepper and toss well.

Place beets around greens and top with goat cheese and addtiional black pepper.

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