Introduction: Beet, Feta and Walnut Salad
I usually complain about salads but this one is exceptional. So often salads will be served that are mostly just lettuce and maybe some croutons which leave me unsatisfied and without the nutrients I desire. This salad however has a complex flavor profile which incorporates sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory (umami) elements while being pretty packed with nutrition...
Walnuts for example:
..."are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and a good source of protein. Nuts have a reputation for being a high-calorie and high-fat food. However, they are dense in nutrients and provide heart-healthy fats. The combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber in walnuts increase satisfaction and fullness..." - Medical News Today
"Twenty-eight grams of walnuts (an ounce) have more antioxidants than the sum of what the average person gets from fruits and vegetables," he says. "That is not to say they are a replacement for fruits and vegetables, but they are very antioxidant dense." - WebMD
But those beets though:
"The sweet root vegetable is packed with B vitamins, iron, fiber, folic acid, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium, providing the body with numerous health-boosting benefits." - Medical Daily
"Beets fight cancer...Beets lower risk of heart disease...Beets boost eye health...Beets boost endurance...Beets reduce dementia risk...Beets combat constipation...Beets discolor your stool..." - Reader's Digest
So now is as good a time as any to get some beets and walnuts into your food hole, along with some other great things...
Step 1: Ingredients
To make about 4 portions of salad, you will need the following:
- 3 beet roots, each about the size of a tennis ball, with the tops removed.
- 170-200g walnuts
- 100-150g of crumbled, aged feta cheese
- 1 bunch of rucola/arugula/rocket
- 1/2 medium head of escarole
- 1/3rd of a cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Step 2: Start With Beets
- Cut the tops off of your beet roots (if you haven't already).
- Put your beets in a pot and add water until they are just covered.
- Season generously with salt.
- Bring the water to a boil and cook the beets for about 20 minutes, at which point you should be able to stick a fork into them. If they are not tender, then leave them to cook until they are. Remove them from the water when they are cooked and allow them to cool.
- Once cooled, remove the skins from the beets. The skins should slide off when you rub them but if not then scrape the skin off.
- Cut your beets into cubes, julienne or wedges; the choice is yours.
Step 3: Get Dressed
- Take out a large bowl and pour your red wine vinegar into it along with salt and pepper (to taste).
- Slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl with the vinegar, whisking to emulsify the mixture into a vinaigrette.
- Add the cooked/cut beets into the bowl with the vinaigrette, tossing them in the liquid until they are fully coated.
- Allow them to marinate for as little as 15 minutes and as long as 2 hours.
Step 4: While Your Beets Are Marinating...
- Preheat your oven to 170°c (350°f).
- Spread your walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, stirring once, until golden brown. It should take 8-10 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely.
Step 5: Combine, Plate & Enjoy!
- Trim and tear your rucola/arugula/rocket and escarole, as needed, if you haven't already.
- Toss the arugula and the escarole with the beets.
- Portion the salad to your plate(s).
- Crumble the feta and walnuts on top of the beet, rucola/arugula/rocket and escarole mixture to finish your salad.
You now have a salad which incorporates the sweetness of beets, the saltiness of feta, the freshness of rucola/escarole, the bitterness of walnuts and the acidity of a vinaigrette to create something which will harmonize on your taste-buds while satisfying your stomach.
Good luck and good eats!