Spring is officially in full swing. With the warming weather, I like to lighten some nights for dinner. For me, “light” generally means “salad”. I know a lot of people thing salad is boring (Derek included). But with the right combinations of flavors and textures, you can turn boring lettuce into a dish that sings.
This salad has lots of components, but each is delicious and can be enjoyed on their own. You can make a bigger batch of each component if you want and incorporate them into other dishes that you make.
I love roasted beets. They’re sometimes a pain to cook, but when you roast them, you get rid of a lot of the hassle. But fair warning, you might still end up with red-tinted hands. Candied walnuts are easily bought at the store, but making them yourself allows you to control the sweetness, and it’s kind of fun. Finally, this balsamic vinegar is killer and I always keep a jar of it in my fridge– don’t buy salad dressing! It’s beyond easy to make your own!
salad with roasted beets and candied walnuts
4-6 cups salad greens, washed and dried
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced (I used a Fuji)
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup dried cranberries, optional
Roasted beets, cubed (see below)
Candied walnuts (see below)
Balsamic vinaigrette (see below)
Divide the salad greens onto four plates, top evenly with apple slices, cranberries, goat cheese crumbles, beets, and walnuts. Pour as much dressing as you want on top; toss to combine and enjoy!
1 pound beets, tops removed and scrubbed clean
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking dish with a piece of aluminum foil twice as big as the dish. Place the beets in the pan. Rub olive oil over the beets, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the beets with the excess foil, wrapping tightly. Roast for one hour, testing after 45 minuts by poking a beet with the tines of a fork. Once the fork tines go in easily, the beets are tender and cooked. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. After the beets have cooled for several minutes, but are still warm to the touch, peel off the outer skins and discard. Cut the beets into quarters or bite-sized pieces, depending on how you are using them.
1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
Large pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups halved walnuts
Combine the first four ingredients in a heavy skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking, and allow to boil for 1 minute. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Continue tossing until the syrup forms a glaze on the nuts, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to sheet of parchment paper or a silpat and quickly separate into a single layer with a fork. Let cool and break up the nuts before eating.
My walnuts never got “candied”. The caramel didn’t harden, and I suspect it’s because I didn’t cook it long enough, so there was still moisture remaining. But even with runny caramel, the nuts were delicious in this salad.
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dijon or whole grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, combine honey, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic. Add balsamic vinegar and whisk. Gradually add oil, whisking to incorporate. Stir until fully emulsified. Store in a jar with lid. Keeps indefinitely in refrigerator.