Here is a super simple, healthy, and tasty salad that works equally well for a quick weeknight meal as it does for a special occasion. The salad consists of only a handful of ingredients, so the ingredients you use must be of the utmost quality. Although the salad would be bit time consuming if preparing it from scratch just before wanting to serve it, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort the night you want to eat it by preparing its individual parts ahead of time.
The beets, which should be purchased when they are small or medium in size, can be roasted in the oven several days before. I roast them by cutting the tops off leaving about 1 inch of the stem intact. I then scrub them well, place them in a single layer in a baking dish, and pour in just enough water to cover the bottom. I place aluminum foil over the dish and roast them in a 425 degree oven for thirty minutes to an hour depending on their size. They are done when a knife can be inserted into the center with little to no resistance. You could uncover them about halfway through to get a more caramelized exterior and deepen their sweetness. They can then be peeled, cut into wedges, and refrigerated until you are ready to use them. This makes it easy to throw this or a similar salad together several times over the course of a week. You can also roast and freeze some of the beets if you want a few ready for a future salad as well.
The remaining ingredients are small, tender greens (I used a mix of baby lettuces and radicchio), candied pecans (such as Trader Joe's Candied Pecans although you could make your own if you are so inclined), and crumbled blue cheese. Everything is lightly tossed with a drizzle of a tangy balsamic vinaigrette sweetened with honey. The vinaigrette does not have as much oil as most (this one has a 1:1 ratio rather than the more standard 1:3), but it is important that the vinaigrette be assertive enough to stand up to the earthiness of the beets and the sharpness of the blue cheese. Once on the salad, it will not seem overly acidic at all.
With these ingredients on hand and at the ready, this colorful and delicious salad is always at your fingertips.
Beet Salad with Blue Cheese, Candied Pecans, and Balsamic Vinaigrette- serves 4
4 cups loosely packed baby greens (or tender lettuces, torn)
4 beets, roasted, peeled, and sliced into 4-6 wedges each
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
4 tbsp candied pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp raw honey
salt and pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and honey. Slow drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until combined. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Set aside. You could also add these ingredients into a small jar, put the lid on tightly, and shake vigorously to combine.
In a small bowl, combine the greens with about half the vinaigrette (you just need enough to lightly coat each leaf). Divide the greens evenly among four plates or bowls. In the now empty bowl, gently toss the beet wedges with the remaining vinaigrette. Place the beet wedges on top of the dressed greens, dividing them evenly among the four plates. Crumble 1 ounce of cheese over each salad. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of chopped pecans over each. Serve salads immediately.