The fact that I am sharing a beet recipe should serve as proof that people do change and old dogs can in fact learn new tricks.
I used to hate beets with a white-hot passion. The only thing I could taste when I tried them was soil. To me, eating beets felt like a mouthful of dirt.
During the Ina In A Year project I was forced (of my own accord) to prepare several beet recipes, and, according to my own rules and regulations, I tasted each one. I’m not sure exactly which recipe it was, but when I tasted roasted beets bathed in a balsamic vinaigrette, I realized vinegar is the magic beet ingredient.
Since that day, little by little, I have become a beet convert, choosing to prepare them at home of my own free will from time to time and ordering them in restaurants whenever possible. The inspiration for today’s recipe comes from a restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas whose name I cannot recall but whose menu featured this amazing salad.
The salad begins with a shallow bowl, swiped with fresh ricotta as a base. Then the bowl is filled with greens, topped with beets, drizzled with vinegar, and sprinkled with granola. As if the beets weren’t strange enough, the granola and ricotta make this sound like the Frankenstein of salads, a mess of ingredients hodge-podged together. But trust me, it works.
I love the combination of flavors and textures in this salad, and if you think about it, granola on a salad makes a lot of sense. We put candied nuts and dried fruit on salads. Why not granola?
You know I love fresh ricotta (recipe here!), but in this case, if you go for the good stuff, store-bought is fine. I would not suggest using the run-of-the-mill grocery store ricotta. If you cannot find high-quality ricotta or if you don’t want to make your own, I would suggest subbing goat cheese. Instead of swiping it, just crumble it on top along with the granola. Goat cheese and beets are a wonderful combo.
If you want to cook your own beets, be my guest. After cooking lots of beets for the Ina In A Year prject, I would suggest you use this method. However, for this salad, I highly recommend purchasing pre-cooked beets. I found two options (pictured above), and as you can see one is cooked (which is fine), but the other one is cooked, sliced, and pickled and it is, in my opinion, the better option. The more vinegar, the better!
As for granola, use what you like, but I would suggest something that isn’t strongly flavored in one direction or another. Chocolate Peanut Butter granola, for example, might not be a great choice. I used the Hurley House granola, but any plain, sweet, crunchy granola will work.
Roasted Beet Salad with Ricotta and Granola
- fresh pickled beets, sliced (alternatively, you can roast your own beets and douse them in balsamic vinegar once you peel them, for the same effect)
- field greens
- fresh ricotta, either homemade or high-quality store bought
- salt and pepper
- a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or perhaps your favorite vinaigrette
- To begin, swipe the inside of your salad bowl with several spoonfuls of fresh ricotta. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Add the salad greens, and if desired, drizzle with balsamic vinegar or a bit of any vinaigrette. I found that the pickled beets provided enough of a dressing for the greens, but if you like a more heavily dressed salad, add your vinaigrette of choice here.
- Top the greens with sliced pickled beets and a generous sprinkle of granola. Enjoy!