For those of you who are thinking “ewww beets,” bear with me and try this recipe. You can always pick them off later. I wholeheartedly believe though that after trying this you may think twice about these root vegetables you’ve chosen to hate since you were a child. Not to mention, this recipe is a beautiful way to bring these ingredients together for a fresh new salad to accompany your weeknight dinners.
For starters it’s that time of year to start sourcing fresh ingredients from your farmers markets. I try to make it a habit to find new ingredients each and every time I’m at one. Sometimes it’s just a new variety of a vegetable or fruit, an heirloom if you will. Other times it’s something I’ve only come across in books and leads me to do more research (once I verify of course that the farmers will have it next time). The bottom line is to have fun and broaden your horizons by talking with local farmers and sourcing your stuff locally. Produce that is at the peak of its freshness can provide so much more vital nutrients and can provide such a different experience to one’s palate- hence the beets in a salad.
Over this past week I’ve been staying with my friend Shauna and her husband Gabe. Neither one of them really liked beets, they both remembered the canned variety- which I’m convinced everyone should shun. I found some fresh varieties at the market and the ideas started to churn.
With beets, I found that the greens are just as delicious at the root itself, yet in this case I wanted to bring out their sweetness and use their beautiful colors in contrast to a salad. You can pretty much cook beets in a way that you would a potato or carrot. You can roast them, boil them, fry them, etc. However for a non beet lover, I chose to simply cut off the greens, wash the root and throw them in an oven. When they’re done you simply let them cool and peel with your hands. You can also boil them, but if you do that and you have a variety of beet with stripes, the colors will bleed and you’ll loose those beautiful striations. I prefer baking, especially for this recipe.
The salad then comes together with the nutty creaminess of the pistachio, peppery arugula and some wonderful pecorino cheese. You get textures and many notes of flavor to balance the salad out. Simple but elegant enough for entertaining, or just to liven up the weeknight. From my kitchen to yours.
Arugula Beet Salad
3 medium sized whole Beets, any variety
1/2 cup of Pistachios
4 cups (10 oz) of baby Arugula
1/2 cup of shaved Pecorino
1/8 cup of Balsamic Vinegar (good quality)
1/8 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (good quality)
1 Garlic clove, minced
Salt and Pepper
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
Using a sharp knife, remove greens from the Beets leaving about a 1/4 inch of the stems. Scrub thoroughly. Place a piece of foil directly on oven racks and place Beets on top. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until they give slightly when you press on them. Cool completely.
Once the Beets are cool, rub your thumb gently on the skin, it should come off easily. Remove all skin and trim as needed. Slice Beets into around 1/8 inch thick slices. Set aside.
In a skillet (without oil), heat the Pistachios on low heat for 5-10 minutes. Flip every few minutes to bring out the flavor of the nut without burning them. Allow to cool completely.
Either divvy up your Arugula into four plates, or set leaves into one large serving bowl. Place the Beets onto of the Arugula, next add the Pistachios and finally the Pecorino. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk till incorporated to form your vinaigrette. Add more Salt and Pepper as needed.
When ready to serve allow guests to dress their salads with your homemade vinaigrette. It’s now ready for pictures and consumption. Enjoy!