I love beetroot. In my opinion, roasted beetroot is basically the candy of the vegetable world. However, unlike candy these roots are extremely nutritious. Lucky. While beets are best grown either in spring, or autumn, it is usually possible to have them all year round, which means you can have this salad as a refreshing main dish on a hot summer’s day, or as a colorful side salad to a nice roast in winter* – or, do as I do and have it however you want it anytime you want it.
Not only are beets healthy and nutritious, but these root vegetables (simply dubbed ‘red food’ by a 3-year-old me) can add a fun and vibrant red, or pink candy-like color to any kind of dish – pasta, soups, salads, baked goods, you name it. Though, while most people are familiar with red, or purple beets, not all beets are red and they can come in a range of colors – from a dark burgundy, to the candy cane striped Chioggia beet (great for Christmas!), to bright yellow. This salad will probably be great with any of them!
By the way, did you know that beets are not just amazing for their bulbous roots, but that their large, green leaves are delicious shredded up in a salad as well? While I haven’t added the leaves to the recipe below, feel free to add some of the greens if your beets come with them still attached. When using beets, I like to combine them with ingredients that accentuate and enhance their sweetness and earthy flavor – the simple recipe below does just that.
First of all, the beets are roasted wrapped tightly in aluminum foil instead of being boiled to keep as much of the sweet, earthy flavor and colors inside. Roasting them with their skins on also makes it easier to take the peel off – after the beets are cooked, you simply rub the peel off with your fingers! Then, there is a whole bunch of chopped-up chervil** which adds a light hint of green and a slightly warming anise aroma. The slightly tart and fruity notes of orange juice add just that bit of freshness needed to compliment the sweetness of the beets without toning it down too much. Finally, the lightly toasted sunflower seeds give the salad another layer of earthy flavors and nice bite, while the soft goat’s cheese adds a welcome creaminess to this crunchy, fresh salad. Do I need to say anything more?
Then, there is a whole bunch of chopped-up chervil** which adds a light hint of green and a slightly warming anise aroma. The slightly tart and fruity notes of orange juice add just that bit of freshness needed to compliment the sweetness of the beets without toning it down too much. Finally, the lightly toasted sunflower seeds give the salad another layer of earthy flavors and nice bite, while the soft goat’s cheese adds a welcome creaminess to this crunchy, fresh salad. Do I need to say anything more?
*As a side salad, this recipe serves about 4 people, or 2 served as a main.
** If you don’t have chervil, replace it by a mixture of tarragon and parsley.
Roasted Beetroot Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Sunflower Seeds
- 750g beets, leaves removed but unpeeled
- 35g sunflower seeds
- 35g chervil*, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 orange (zest + 6 tablespoons juice)
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 120g soft goat’s cheese
- * If you don't have chervil, replace by a mixture of fresh parsley and fresh tarragon
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- To prepare the beets, cut of the tops and bottoms, but don’t peel them. Scrub the roots thoroughly under running water. When they are clean, wrap large beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a baking tray. Small beets can be wrapped up together.
- Place the wrapped beets into the oven for about 40 - 50 minutes. However, check on them from time to time with a skewer, as different sized roots will cook at different times; a small beet will obviously have a shorter cooking time than a large one. The beets are done when the skewer slides in easily. When the beets are done, take them out of the oven and open up the aluminum wrap – watch out for the hot steam!
- While the beets are in the oven, you can prepare the sunflower seeds and dressing. To toast the sunflower seeds, place a small frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the seeds to the pan and slightly toast them for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep them from burning. Set aside until needed. To make the dressing, combine the zest of 1 small orange, 6 tablespoons of orange juice, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until it’s time to serve the salad.
- When the beets are cooled down enough to handle safely, peel them by rubbing on the peel with your finger, or a piece of kitchen paper. The peel should come off easily. Let the beets cool down a bit more, then cut them into cubes and transfer to a salad bowl.
- Chop the chervil very finely and add to the bowl with the beets. Add the toasted sunflower seeds to the bowl as well.
- To serve the salad, add the dressing to the bowl with the beets, chervil and seeds. Stir well to combine. Break up the soft goat’s cheese with your hands and divide over the beets.