Bring the Garden in Friday with Beet and Arugula Salad


It is 74 degrees here today. Spring is tempting and teasing us.

Yesterday I went out in the garden and picked a huge bowlful of arugula that I planted in the Fall. With beets and goat cheese from the farmer's market, and the addition of slivered blood oranges and toasted walnuts, this salad seemed to fit this March day: a composition of a touch of Spring, lots of sunshine, and a healthy dose of Winter.

Are you planning your garden, yet? This week I took out last year's plans, my leftover seeds, magazine and notebook.

I made a list of everything I want to plant--a list that is probably too long. Like last year, I am thinking of adding a raised bed. When I get a little more organized (will this ever happen?), I'll tell you more about what I'm hoping for.

Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese
adapted from Food to Live By


Orange Walnut Vinaigrette

1/2 cup walnut oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Let the dressing sit at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop before serving. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 1 month. Let it return to room temperature before serving.

Salad

1 pound beets, roasted, at room temperature
5 ounces (about 6 cups) arugula, rinsed and dried
2 blood or naval oranges, segmented
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled goat or feta cheese
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Trim off the beet greens, leaving the stringy root end and about 1/2 inch of the stem attached. Rinse the beets under cool water and gently scrub them to remove any dirt. Dry them with paper towels.

3. Place the beets in a shallow baking dish and coat them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Tightly cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.

4. Bake the beets until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets.

5. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the stems and stringy roots, and slip off the skins with a paring knife. The beets can rest for up to 2 hours at room temperature. They can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days.

6. Cut the beets into bite size pieces, about a 1/2 inch dice. Place the beets in a small bowl, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, and toss until the beets are coated. The salad can be prepared to this stage 1 day in advance, if desired.

7. Just before serving the salad, place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Add about 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss to lightly coat the arugula, add more if desired.

8. Transfer the arugula to a platter or individual salad plates. Arrange the beets and orange segments on top of the greens and sprinkle the cheese and walnuts over them. Serve immediately.

Serves 4, as a side dish.