This salad features a very classic lineup of ingredients: beets, goat cheese, and walnuts. A shallot vinaigrette, seasoned with fresh orange juice, always a nice match for beets, brings it all together. Below you’ll find two simple methods for cooking beets: salt-roasted and steam-roasted.

Beet salad on a plate.

Have you ever salt-roasted beets?

Don’t worry: the beets don’t taste overly salty; in fact, they don’t taste salty at all. They taste perfectly seasoned, sweet and earthy with a nice firm texture.

I was inspired to blog about this method after reading an article in the March issue of Saveur — all about where to eat in Los Angeles — which offered a recipe for Wolfgang Puck’s beet and goat cheese napoleons, an appetizer served at Spago.

A short article in the back of the issue addresses how to cook beets so that their color doesn’t run. To preserve color and nutrients, Saveur recommends placing beets (5 to 6) in a 9×13-inch baking dish, pouring in an inch of water, covering the dish tightly with foil, and roasting until a knife easily slides into the beets, about 1 1/2 hours. I used to cook beets just as prescribed.

That was until I learned the method of the chef (former chef) from the cafe where I used to work. He salt-roasted his beets with rosemary and thyme, and his beet salad, served with a goat cheese-topped crostini, Blue Heron Farm greens, and a lemon emulsion, was one of his signature dishes.

When I tried his cooking method at home, I discovered something remarkable: not an ounce of liquid (well maybe a teensy tiny bit) leeches from the beets. If preserving color and nutrients is the goal, then salt roasting is the way to cook beets.

Beets’ affinity for orange makes the dressing for this salad, adapted from Saveur’s, particularly nice: reduced orange juice, orange zest, shallots, rice vinegar, chives, and olive oil. I like to spoon this dressing over the salad rather than toss it with the ingredients — beets turn a tossed salad into one big red mess.

Think you don’t like beets? Try salt roasting them. As a final endorsement, I’d like to share that my husband never liked beets until he tasted them cooked this way. The first time I salt-roasted beets and served them to him, he asked me what was different and why he liked them. Had I not been so impressed by his discerning palette, I might have been offended — I never knew he didn’t like beets. And it turns out he didn’t. I just didn’t know how to cook them.

beets in salt
Beets
Dressing Ingredients
Beet salad in a bowl.
Beet salad on a plate.
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Salt roasted beet salad on a plate.

Salt-Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese & Toasted Walnuts


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 as a side dish
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Description

I’ve recently updated/simplified the recipe. Some notes: 

  • If you liked the original dressing that called for reducing fresh orange juice, check out this Saveur recipe. The recipe below now simply calls for fresh orange juice, vinegar, shallots, and olive oil, and no reducing of the juice is required.
  • Because some people don’t love wasting so much salt for the salt-roasted method, I’ve included a steam-roasted method below as well.
  • To toast the walnuts, place them on a sheet pan and roast them at 375ºF — you can do this after the beets are removed — for 8 minutes or until they are being to smell and look toasty. 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs. beets, washed, greens removed
  • kosher salt, if doing the salt-roasted method
  • a few sprigs thyme and rosemary, optional

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup finely minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • juice of one orange, about 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For assembly:

  • goat cheese, about 4 ounces
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, see notes above
  • greens, about 5 ounces
  • chives, snipped with scissors or finely chopped

Instructions

  1. To Salt-Roast the Beets: Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Pour kosher salt into a shallow roasting vessel to make a thin layer. (See photo to help estimate how much.) Place beets on salt bed. If using herbs, nestle a few sprigs among the beets. Cover pan tightly with foil and place in oven for about one hour, depending on how many and how big your beets are. Note: To test for doneness, remove foil and slip a pairing knife into one of the beets. If the knife meets little resistance, they are done. When beets are done, remove foil covering and let them cool. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skins and discard. Cut beets into 6ths or 8ths, and transfer to a bowl.
  2. To Steam-Roast the Beets: Heat the oven to 375ºF. Nestle the beets into a small roasting vessel, such as an 8- or 9-inch round or square baking dish. Pour in 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil. Transfer to the oven for 1 hour. To test for doneness, remove foil and slip a pairing knife into one of the beets. If the knife meets little resistance, they are done. When beets are done, remove foil covering and let them cool. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skins and discard. Cut beets into 6ths or 8ths, and transfer to a bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place the shallots, vinegar, juice, and salt in a small bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Whisk in 1/3 cup of the olive oil. Taste. Adjust with more olive oil to taste — there should be nice balance of sweet and sharp in the dressing, and it will be on the thin side. Adjust with salt to taste.
  4. To assemble the salad, arrange greens in a large, shallow bowl. Drizzle lightly with the dressing. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss gently. Season the beets with salt to taste. Drizzle lightly with the dressing and toss gently. Arrange the dressed beets over the greens. Sprinkle the walnuts over top. Crumble the goat cheese over top. Sprinkle the chives over top and season with freshly cracked pepper to taste. Resist the urge to toss — beets will turn the salad into a big red mess. Note: If you don’t care about looks, go ahead, toss everything together.
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: salt-roasted, beet, salad