Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Walnuts

I’m a (huge) fan of salads.

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They’re one of my go-to sides and are easily one of my favourite meals to make when I’m cooking for one. I frequently order them in restaurants, too – particularly is blue or goat cheese is involved.

I love salads, but they require a few key components for them to be satisfying enough to be considered a meal. First and foremost, they’ve gotta be voluminous. Lots of produce. Secondly, they have to have a protein component. Chicken, fish, steak, eggs, even cheese if enough is used (there’s no such thing).

Actually, cheese is almost always a requirement, which brings me to the next essential component: a couple of fat sources. From cheese, obviously, and/or avocado and/or oil (olive is my fave) and/or nuts. This is KEY for lasting satisfaction. Finally, there has to be flavour and variety – I’m talking a variety of vegetables, different types of greens, a sweet component such as fruit.

Simple cheese, nut and fruit salads are my all-time loves. They’re healthy, well-rounded, packed with flavour. This beet and goat cheese salad is one version. While beets aren’t a fruit, they have an earthy sweetness I absolutely love (is it just me, or do people tend to either love/loathe beets? I definitely fall into the former category). The fresh goat cheese adds a decadent creaminess, and the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar ties in all together in such a way that one could almost call this salad decadent. Topped with chicken, it makes for a wonderful light dinner with a side of red wine and chocolate. Otherwise, it makes a wonderful side dish to many meals, especially pastas.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Walnuts – Serves 1 as an entrée, easily multiplied

Ingredients

– 2-3 cups of mixed greens (I like a combination of leaf lettuce, romaine and spinach)
– 1/2 small vidalia onion, thinly sliced
– 1 large beet or 3 small beets, roasted and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
– 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
– 1/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
– 1 small chicken breast, baked or grilled (optional)

– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1-3 tsp olive oil (Note: I like my vinegar:oil ratio to be 3:1, which is quite acidic for some; adjust accordingly)
– 1/2 tsp honey
– 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
– Salt and pepper, to taste

To make:

  1. In a medium bowl, toss together greens and onions. Tops with beets, crumbled cheese, and toasted nuts. Top with sliced chicken, if desired.
  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients (from the balsamic vinegar to the salt and pepper); pour over salad. Devour.

To roast beets: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash beets, toss with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast for 45-60 minutes (until easily pieced with a fork). Let cool, peel and slice.

To toast walnuts: Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add nuts and stir constantly to avoid burning. They’re toasted when they are lightly browned and give off a fragrant, “nutty” smell.

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