With just a little prep work done in advance, you can manifest a gorgeous bowl of elevated greens that taste totally restaurant-worthy.
Leave the bottled dressings behind, skip the premade, DIY salad kits from the grocery store, and say hello to our fresh blend of arugula with roasted, marinated beets and creamy goat cheese.
Sounds fancy, right? Yep. And difficult to make? Nah.
When I think back on the most noteworthy salads I have eaten, they’re actually simple to prepare and assemble, and all have several things in common.
Each has a combination of contrasting textures and colors. And each recipe features just one or two ingredients that are exceptionally bold standouts, which boost the salad to its full potential.
I don’t mean a carrot that’s sliced in a special way or a radish that’s been carved into a rose. It could be fresh lobster quickly boiled until soft and succulent, a uniquely savory granola as a final touch, or in the case of this recipe, earthy roasted beets marinated in tangy balsamic vinegar and delicate olive oil.
But wait! There’s more!
I don’t throw away the marinade – it actually doubles as the simple vinaigrette for this salad! See how a little forethought goes a long way?
Marinating the beets in this mixture draws out their lush crimson juices, creating a dressing that’s not only rich in flavor, but with vibrant color too.
Well, depending on the type of beets you choose, of course.
I love the loud hue of the red roots, and we’ve even dedicated beet and fresh herb salad to these ruby beauties, but golden beets are equally radiant here. Roasting and peeling them is a cinch, so all you’re left with is the fun part of deciding how to slice them before they marinate.
Whether you go with half-moons, thin rounds, or chunks, it’s a choose-your-own-shape adventure.
Crisp, peppery arugula adds sharpness, but if you’re a spinach enthusiast or happen to be crazy for kale, feel free to use your favorite leafy greens as your base.
Toasted walnuts provide crunch and nuttiness, while chewy, dried cranberries have a tartness that echoes the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar. With its bright flavors and creamy texture, a lightly aged goat cheese is always a game-changer when it comes to enjoying a bowlful of greens, and there’s a reason why you always spy it on a menu next to beets as well.
Although they’re yummy on their own, the earthy root veg really benefits from a little lift – the playful tang from a fresh goat cheese completes the job.
Also, a nice wooden salad bowl screams, “I make salads all the time!” – even if you don’t.
By simply taking the time to enhance a few elements, and using fresh and flavorful ingredients, you can make, eat, and enjoy a restaurant-quality salad whenever you please, right at home!Print
This beet salad is anything but boring. It’s a bright blend of peppery arugula, toasted walnuts, tangy goat cheese, and dried cranberries.
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1–2 teaspoons honey, to taste (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 ounces arugula (about 4 cups lightly packed)
- 3–4 medium roasted beets (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- Combine the vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisking as you pour, add the olive oil gradually in a thin stream and continue whisking until emulsified. Season with salt, pepper, and additional honey to taste, if using.
- Add the sliced beets, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove the beets from the dressing and set them aside on a plate.
- Place the arugula in a large serving bowl. Adding one tablespoon of dressing at a time, toss arugula to mix until coated well, or to your preference.
- Top with the reserved beets, walnuts, cranberries, and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Vegetarian
- Method: Roasting
- Cuisine: Salad
Keywords: arugula, roasted beets, goat cheese, walnut, balsamic vinegar
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Measure, and Prep Ingredients
Roast the beets if you haven’t already and slice them into bite-size pieces if they’re still whole. Give our recipe a peek for some tips on roasting and peeling your roots.
Get out a large wooden salad bowl, a medium mixing bowl, and a whisk.
Measure the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey if you would like to use some for added sweetness. I recommend a flavorful, high quality extra-virgin olive oil for salad dressings. Measure the salt and pepper and keep them nearby to adjust the seasonings as needed.
Measure the arugula directly into your wooden salad bowl and return it to the fridge until you’re ready to dress the greens.
Measure and chop the walnuts or slivered almonds and measure the cranberries and goat cheese. If your goat cheese came in a log, you can crumble it into a bowl now, or wait to do it directly over the finished salads.
Step 2 – Make the Dressing
Add the vinegar, honey if using, salt, and pepper to the mixing bowl.
While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream into the dressing until it comes together. Dip a piece of arugula into the dressing and taste for seasoning and sweetness. If necessary, adjust by adding more salt, pepper, and/or honey.
Step 3 – Marinate the Beets and Toast the Nuts
Add the sliced beets directly to the dressing and toss to coat well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the beets marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts.
Place a small dry skillet over medium-low heat and add the nuts. Shaking the pan occasionally to promote even browning, cook until golden and lightly toasted, for about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Set the toasted walnuts aside in a bowl so they don’t continue to brown from the residual heat.
Step 4 – Toss the Greens, Finish the Salads, and Serve
Remove the marinated beets from the fridge and use a slotted spoon to transfer them onto a plate.
Get the arugula out of the fridge. Using one tablespoon at a time, drizzle the balsamic dressing over the arugula, tossing and adding more until it’s coated to your liking. Feel free to use as much as you like, and save any that’s left over in the refrigerator for later use.
Divide the dressed greens among plates and top with even portions of the reserved beets, toasted walnuts, cranberries, and crumbled goat cheese. Just before serving, season to taste again with salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve the salad immediately to prevent the dressing from wilting the greens.
Do I Have to Pair My Beets with Goat Cheese?
Look, it may be a classic combo, but if chèvre just doesn’t do it for you, no harm done.
No one says you have to be best friends with every cheese.
Like I mentioned before, roasted beets are delightfully earthy and somewhat sweet, and pair well with bold, acidic cheeses. A bright, pungent cheese brings out the best in them, and briny feta or even an aged cheddar would work great in this recipe.
Will you let the beets mingle with fresh chèvre, or will you choose another cheese to use in the recipe? Share your best salad secrets in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
If you love arugula and its spicy attitude, try these recipes that feature the tasty greens next:
- Mushroom and Thyme Pine Nut Butter Sandwiches
- Pear and Arugula Salad with Maple Vinaigrette and Creamy Fried Goat Cheese
- Potato and Chanterelle Soup with Fresh Arugula Pesto
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Jennifer Swartvagher on July 22, 2015. Last updated on October 24, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”