I am a bit obsessed with seasonal fruits and vegetables, and seasonal things, in general. James and I had some friends over for dinner one evening (ahem…two months ago, which tells you a bit about my procrastination skills…) and we served this beet salad with roasted chicken. At first I was skeptical because the taste and texture of beets don’t appeal to everyone, but thankfully, our guests actually like them!
This simple salad plays up the natural sweetness of fresh beets. I happen to love beets, but for those who feel overwhelmed by the earthiness of beets, the balsamic vinegar and parsley help to tone it down a bit. Topped with feta cheese and hazelnuts (inspired by a beet salad I had at Rosemary’s, which had hazelnuts in it), this salad is a reminder of how amazing foods taste when they are fresh and in season! The salad is perfect with just about any summer meal, be it roasted chicken, grilled meats, or by itself.
We’ve never worked with fresh beets before, so of course, we followed the instructions as closely as possible. We did end up making several adjustments to the recipe we used. I’d recommend against peeling the beets with your bare hands. Many recipes say the skin is supposed to slip off easily after cooking, and while that is true to some extent, it is still too messy of a method with the beet juice running down your hands, seeping into your fingernails, dripping on the counter, and basically staining everything along the way (I sliced them on a plate so they wouldn’t stain the cutting board). Peeling it with a small paring knife will save you from headaches later on. You can also use disposable gloves to protect your hands from stains.
A few words about presentation: if you’re not serving it right away, you should save the feta cheese crumbles for topping last minute so that the beets won’t dye them pink. We cut the beets into cubes but feel free to slice and fan out on a plate. You can even use yellow and red beets for some color contrast. I think that would make for a very pretty and elegant first course!
- 4 beets, trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stems attached
- ¼ cup shallots, minced
- 2 tbsps fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil, and place on a baking sheet. Bake beets in the oven for 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.
- Once done, remove from oven, and allow to cool until you can handle them. Cut off the ends of the beets, peel, and cut into ½ inch cubes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together shallots, parsley, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Before serving, toss beets with prepared vinaigrette, and top with feta cheese and hazelnuts. Serve cold or at room temperature.