I think one of the reasons I love the cooler months so much is because it is beet season. Beets have been referred to as “winter’s sweet treats”. You can find beets throughout the year, but during the Fall and Winter months they are at their peak of deliciousness–and I can’t get enough of them. Red and yellow beets have an earthy and naturally sweet flavor when roasted. Beets (or beetroots) are the so-called “taproot” of the beet plant. A large proportion of the commercially produced red beets (the most common variety) are actually pickled. Yellow-beets (my favorite variety) are grown on a much smaller scale, and are typically used for home consumption.
Yellow beets are divine. Slightly less earthy and possibly a tad bit sweeter than their red cousins, yellow beets are visually stunning when simply roasted and sliced.
Beets are great straight-up, but they are also wonderful in salads. I call this a simple salad because there only a few ingredients, but the flavors and colors are bright. I pair the sweet roasted yellow beets with a baby arugula, a favorite green of mine. Baby arugula is just arugula that has been harvested young. It’s more petit, more delicate and not as intensely peppery as regular arugula. Arugula, also known as “rocket” or “rucola,” has become more popular in recent years, but is still a less recognized cruciferous vegetables. Many people don’t know that arugula has many of the same nutritional properties as other vegetables in the same family such as kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I tossed in some soft, tangy goat cheese to complement both the roasted beets and the peppery flavor of the baby arugula. Lightly toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) add a bit of crunch while the fresh thyme and lemon-mustard vinaigrette elevate the simple flavors without being overwhelming. This is a great simple salad to have in your repertoire, and will make a great addition to any meal.
Arugula & Golden Beet Salad
- 3 large golden yellow beets, cleaned and trimmed
- For the Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced, divided
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- For the Salad:
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/3 cup pepitas, lightly toasted
- 4 cups packed baby arugula
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 2 For the Beets: Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of the beets, or until a knife inserted into the beet comes out easily. Remove from the oven, carefully open the foil and allow to cool slightly.
- Step 3 Once the beets are cool enough to handle, using your hands, gently remove the outer peel from the roasted beets, this should slide off easily. Place the beets on a cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Place in a small bowl and reserve.
- Step 4 For the Dressing: In a small bowl add the Dijon, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon thyme, garlic clove, salt and pepper. Mix well to incorporate. Using a fork, gently mix in the two oils. Alternatively, the dressing can also be made in a small glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Simply shake well to incorporate. Set aside.
- Step 5 Add a tablespoon of the dressing to the diced beets and lightly toss to coat.
- Step 6 To assemble, layer the arugula and beets on a large platter. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Top with crumbled goat cheese, toasted pepitas and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Serve at once.