I know the big Foodie holidays are over, but I have one last recipe to share. This is a fancy crowd-pleaser that’s very easy to make. It’s super impressive without being overly fussy. It also just HAPPENS to look very festive this time of year, but you can make this salad anytime.
Bring this salad to your next potluck and you’ll be everyone’s best friend. Hardly anyone brings salad to potlucks, so guests will be grateful for a little bit of green. Plus, you don’t have to cook. Everyone wins.
Fancy Beet & Goat Cheese Salad
This recipe is written for doing everything from scratch. Starred items have time-saving alternatives; see below.
Prep time: About one hour. Cook time: 0 minutes.
For the salad:
- 1 large container mixed baby greens
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces*
- 1 bunch fresh basil, chiffonade (that’s when you cut it into very thin strips)
- 4 small-medium beets*
- 1 small bunch of radishes, washed and sliced very thin (use a mandolin if you have one)*
- 1 12 oz. container of goat cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 C dried tart cherries
For the dressing*:
- 1/4 t dried tarragon
- 1/4 t herbs de Provence
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 C white balsamic vinegar
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Dash agave nectar or honey
- 1/4-1/2 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
This recipe is all about multi-tasking. First, pre-heat the oven to 375°. Wrap each beet in foil, gathering the foil from the bottom up, and twisting to close at the top. Roast beets for about 30 minutes, or until soft all the way through. Set aside to cool.
While you’re waiting for the oven to heat up, wash the lettuce and basil and set out to drain. Scrub and trim the radishes, and slice thinly. (Beets should be in the oven by now).
Toast the walnuts over medium heat in a dry skillet. Don’t walk away from these – they’ll burn in the blink of an eye. Toss frequently for about 8 minutes, until they hiss in the pan and release their aroma. As soon as you see a bit of color, remove from heat. Toss once or twice as they cool down. Set aside.
Make the dressing: Combine everything except olive oil in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. (You can also use a blender for this, but I prefer this way – easier to taste and adjust.) Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking continuously. Taste and adjust herbs and seasoning. Set aside. The longer the dressing sits, the better it will taste.
When the beets are cool, remove from foil and peel off the skin with a paring knife, taking care to create a nicely shaped beet. Slice beets in half lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Wear gloves if you don’t want red fingers.
Assemble salad: Toss mixed greens, lettuce, basil and radishes together in a large salad bowl. If you make ahead of time, don’t add the dressing until just before service. Otherwise, toss this mixture with most of the dressing.
Arrange the beets around the outer edge of the bowl, with all the slices facing the same way (like a fan). Spread the goat cheese and dried cherries in the middle. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the beets, then top the whole shebang with toasted walnuts.
1. You can get pre-washed, already torn-up lettuce. Just use something mild and light, comparable to leaf lettuce.
2. You don’t have to roast the beets. You can purchase them already cooked, in a can. They’ll be a bit sweeter and mushier, but they’ll do.
3. Slicing the radishes is the most tedious bit of this prep (peeling the beets is messy, but easy). If you’re not feeling this, just leave them out completely. No one will know!
3. You can purchase dressing instead of making your own. It only takes a few minutes to whip this dressing up, especially once you’ve done it a few times. But if you opt to use store-bought, go for a simple Balsamic vinaigrette. Newman’s Own is a good one.
4. You can do everything ahead of time, including mixing the salad base. Keep all the components separate until just before service though – the beets will stain everything pink, and the walnuts will get soggy. Otherwise, everything can be done up to a day in advance.
What do you like to bring to a potluck? Share in the comments below!