|Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Sunflower Seeds|
I love beets, but this wasn’t always true. Actually, the truer statement would be that I never knew beets until I moved to California. It was after we moved out of San Francisco and up into Sonoma county. We were living on the westside of Santa Rosa and I had a job at a little nonprofit agency in Sebastopol.
Sebastopol, like so many California towns, had that small town quaintness where you could actually imagine what life had been like decades earlier. The town had been known for its plums and apples, particularly the tart little Gravenstein apple, but eventually with the growth of the wine industry, the old orchards were replanted with grapes. Sebastopol is just 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean and the drive is breathtakingly beautiful with rolling pastureland and grazing animals, endless blue skies and winding roads.
Of course, this bucolic idyll had one giant behemoth a short walk from my office–Whole Foods–which I fondly referred to as Whole Paycheck. I am, admittedly, much enamored of Whole Foods, particularly of their extensive salad bar, and for this reason, I bought my lunch there daily. Expensive, yes, but well worth it.
It was there that I decided to toss beets into my little salad box. I knew they were a powerful superfood and good for me, so it was worth a try. My love for them was instantaneous and I ate them daily. I exaggerate not a bit when I say that they instilled me with super powers–maybe even the x-ray vision, I need a cape now sort.
Eventually, I moved on to another job and left my daily Whole Foods salads behind, so I embarked on the task of preparing beets at home. And what a task it was, for preparing beets, while easy, leaves behind a violent mess in the sink, on your clothes, and particularly on your hands.
But don’t be daunted by the mess, for beets are unbelievably tasty, earthy and sweet, and go perfectly with apples and sunflower seeds, spinach, bacon, fennel–and so many other things. This recipe for beet salad is paired with creamy goat cheese, baby spinach, sunflower seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy.
1. Place beets on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap the aluminum foil around the beets, creating a packet, but leave the top seam open for the steam to escape.
2. Set packet on a sheet pan and put into a 350º oven; roast beets until they are fork tender, but still have firmness to them.
3. Allow to cool until you can handle them, then rub the skins off the beets with your fingers, or use a sharp paring knife to peel away the skins. Rinse with warm water and set aside.
4. Arrange spinach leaves on two salad plates.
5. Slice the beets and arrange the beet slices over the spinach leaves.
6. Place a spoon of goat cheese atop the beets.
7. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle on a pinch of cracked pepper and a spoon of sunflower seeds.