This Roasted Beet Salad recipe is a beautifully DELICIOUS company or special occasion side that everyone will go crazy for!
This Beet Salad recipe will have you head over heels for its layers of bright, tangy, fresh flavors and crunchy, creamy, juicy textures! This Beet Goat Cheese Salad is loaded with tender roasted beets, juicy mandarin oranges, crispy apples, punchy red onions, sweet crunchy caramelized walnuts, salty toasted pepitas, creamy goat cheese, sweet tart pomegranate seeds, fresh spring mix lettuce all drizzled with Orange Pomegranate Vinaigrette. It’s a tango of tangy, sweet, salty, savory perfection that will have everyone going back for seconds and thirds! This Roasted Beet Salad is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas feast and every potluck and company dinner in between AND it can be prepped entirely ahead of time!
Beet Salad Recipe
Can you believe Thanksgiving is this Thursday?! I’ve loved sharing Thanksgiving recipes in anticipation of the epic feast like my Apple Crisp, Pear Pie, Corn Casserole and Green Bean Casserole and now I’m so excited to bring you this Beet Salad! But before we jump into that gold mine, make sure you check out this Thanksgiving Round Up Post divided into appetizers, sides and desserts or you can see them all at a glance at my Thanksgiving recipe index.
Now that you have your recipe for the BEST turkey with herb butter, let me introduce you to this Beet Salad recipe that will have everyone clearing their plates to make room for more salad. In fact, my husband’s friend was in town when I made this Beet Goat Cheese Salad, and he scarfed down four platefuls! And I unabashedly did the same because this Beet Salad recipe with its intoxicating Orange Pomegranate Dressing will convert everyone into a beet lover!
Speaking of which, I LOVE Beet Salads. I had one of the best salads of my life recently at a retreat and it was all due to the fresh garden beets – because beets make everything better. This Beet Salad recipe is both fresh yet comforting, sweet yet savory, tangy yet earthy and just palate pleasing all around!
The alluring combination of the earthy beets with the sweet, juicy mandarin oranges is heavenly (please don’t skip the oranges!), but then it’s elevated to entirely ethereal level with the caramelized crunchy nuts with the tangy cheese, with the sweet tart bright pops of pomegranate seeds with the salty pumpkin seeds. And don’t even get me started on that dressing – or do. It’s basically holiday magic in salad form.
There are a few different steps in this Beet Salad recipe – as you would expect from an epic salad – roasting the beats, caramelizing the nuts and making the dressing- but you can prep everything ahead of time and then assemble when it’s time to serve. And once you dig in, hopefully, you’ll agree this Beet Salad is one of the best salads of your life. It’s my way of saying Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Beet Salad Recipe Ingredients
The ingredients for this Beet Salad are pretty straightforward. You will need:
- Greens: I like to use a spring salad mix because it makes your life easier – no chopping lettuce!; but more importantly, it feels fancier than just romaine, I like the texture better than just spinach and it is not as potent as all arugula or endive. Of course, you can swap it out for your favorite greens.
- Beets. You can use any color combination of beets – or all one color. I used red and orange beets because they are gorgeous together and offer two layers of flavor. Gold (or orange beets) are actually sweeter than red, more like carrots. I suggest roasting the beets but I’ve also included other cooking methods below. If you don’t want to cook your own beets, you may use canned beets, but I promise cooking them is SO hands-off simple.
- Mandarin oranges: I recommend fresh mandarin oranges as opposed to canned because canned oranges easily fall apart. For fresh Mandarin oranges, look for clementines because they are seedless and super easy to peel.
- Apple. I highly recommend a sweet apple like Fuji or Honeycrisp. Their sweetness and fresh crunch beautifully compliment the other earthy and tangy ingredients and are one of my favs with cheese. You can slice your apples or chop them into chunks – totally personal preference.
- Red onion. I like the fresh pop of red onion but if you’re not a fan of raw onions, you can cook them 30 seconds or so in the microwave to soften the bite or place them in a colander placed in a bowl of water for 10 minutes.
- Goat cheese: Beets and goat cheese are a famously appealing combination: the sharp, salty bite of the cheese with the sweet, roasted beets – a match made in foodie heaven.. You will want to purchase goat cheese crumbles in a 4 oz. tub. The tubs are usually located with the specialty cheeses at your grocery store and not next to everyday cheddar.
- Nuts: Don’t skip the nuts! The caramelized walnuts add a sweet addicting crunch that your palate longs for in every bite. I use my 5 Minute Caramelized Nuts in this Beet Salad recipe because it is so easy and the nuts emerge beautifully caramelized, sweet and crunchy every time.
- Seeds: Roasted, salted pepitas please! If you aren’t familiar with pepitas, they are pumpkin seeds! They should be easy to find, but you may substitute them with roasted, salted sunflower seeds if you wish. I purchase my pepitas in the bulk bins at Sprouts.
- Pomegranate Arils/Seeds: You can purchase a whole pomegranate and seed it yourself or you can buy pomegranate seeds in a container for a shortcut.
Tips for Choosing and Storing Beets
Beets are the star of this Beet Salad recipe – we use a whole 2 pounds! So, it is important to know how to select and store beets so they’re both fresh and flavorful.
How to Choose Beets:
Size: Beets come in a wide variety of sizes from just 1 ½ inches in diameter to up to 4 inches in diameter! I suggest selecting either small, early crop beets sold in bunches with their stems still attached or medium-sized beet. You don’t want super large beets because they can taste woody and fibrous and have less flavor. No matter if you choose small or medium beets, try to select beets that are similar in size so they cook evenly.
Appearance: Choose beets that are smooth, hard and round, free of bruises and cuts with a rich color. Avoid beets that are soft, or have soft spots, dry or flabby skin and of course avoid any type of mold. The root of the beet (taproot), should be slender which means it was harvested early in the season at prime maturation. The leaves (if attached) should be bright green, fresh and not withered or yellowed.
How to store beets:
- Do not wash or peel beets before storing or the moisture can cause them to mold or rot.
- Store dry, unwashed beets in a plastic bag, squeeze out excess air, and wrap tightly around beets. Place bagged beets in your vegetable draw for up to 10 days.
- If you purchase beets with their stems still attached, clip off most of the stems a soon as you get home (you can save the greens for pasta or sauté them). You don’t want to keep the stems attached because they will continue to pull moisture away from the beets.
- When trimming the beats, leave about one to two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from “bleeding.”
Beet salad Dressing Ingredients
Now that we’re expert at the BEET part of our Beet Salad recipe, let’s dive into the beet dressing! This Orange Pomegranate Vinaigrette is nothing short of wickedly addicting. You’ll want to douse everything with it! And the good news is, it takes minutes to make once you have your ingredients. You will need:
- Pomegranate juice: can be found with the rest of the juices, or sometimes it is located in the refrigerated section. You can portion out and freeze whatever juice you don’t use in this beet dressing for a later use – or add it to acai bowls – or drink it!
- Orange juice and zest: use fresh oranges because we are also using some of the zest.
- Olive oil: use quality, extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Red wine vinegar: adds the delightful tanginess. Use more or less to taste.
- Dijon mustard: adds an oomph of flavor.
- Maple syrup: balances the dressing. Please use pure maple syrup and not imitation kind. If you don’t have pure maple syrup, it is better to substitute with honey.
- Dried minced onions: add flavor! Dried minced onions are located with the rest of the spices. You may substitute with one minced shallot.
- Garlic: I prefer garlic powder in my dressings because it distributes more evenly but you may also use fresh garlic.
- Seasonings: salt, pepper, dried thyme, and all spice round out the flavor profile.
How to Make cold Beet Salad
This Beet Goat Cheese Salad recipe has a few different steps other than just chopping – but please don’t be scared away. It’s very simple and make ahead friendly.
Step 1- Cook Beets
We are going to start off by roasting the beets. I know the thought of turning your oven on for a salad might sound like a turn off, but I promise it’s SO worth it AND you can prep the salad, make the dressing and caramelize the nuts while your beets are roasting. You can also roast the beets days in advance (see make ahead section below). I’ve included detailed instructions on how to cook beets below by roasting, steaming, boiling or microwaving.
Step 2 – Make Beet Dressing:
While the beets are roasting, the first thing I do is make the to-live-for Beet Dressing. This gives the dressing some time to chill – and chilled dressing is always 1000X better. You can shake the dressing up in a mason jar or whisk in a bowl – totally up to you.
Step 3 – Caramelize Nuts
Prepare the caramelized nuts by cooking walnuts for 3-5 minutes with sugar and butter until evenly coated melted butter/sugar. I like to roughly chop my nuts once cooled. Now, how easy is that?! The caramelized nuts can be made 1 week ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.
Step 4 – Assemble
Now, it’s time to bring the magic all together! When ready to serve, toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. If serving right away and you don’t expect leftovers then you can drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to combine. If you expect leftovers, serve dressing on the side.
How to Cook Beets
There are many methods of cooking beets. I prefer to oven roast them, but if that’s not an option for you, you may boil them, microwave them or steam them. Here’s how:
HOW TO ROAST BEETS:
Roasting beets in the oven is a quick, easy, hands-off approach. It also boasts the added bonus that the beets don’t bleed everywhere while cooking. To roast beets in the oven:
- Trim the roots and stem and scrub them clean but don’t peel.
- Spread a large piece of foil on a baking sheet.
- Add beets and rub all over with l tablespoon olive oil.
- Fold the foil up around the beets to create a tightly closed package.
- Roast the beets in the packet on the baking sheet until tender, 60-80 minutes, checking for doneness at 60 minutes. Beets are done when they are fork tender.
- As soon as beets are cool enough to handle, use gloves (so you don’t stain your hands), run them under cool water while you slide the skins off with your hands.
HOW TO BOIL BEETS:
Like many vegetables, the longer you cook beets in water, the more colorful phytonutrients leach out of the food and into the water. It is better to roast beets to retain more nutrients. That being said, it is possible to boil whole beets without peeling. Once boiled, the peels will slip right off. To boil beets:
- Scrub the outside of the beets clean but don’t peel. Leave 1-2 inches of the root and stem intact so they don’t bleed.
- Place the beets in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover them by at least three inches.
- Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to keep them from bleeding.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the water starts evaporating, make sure to top it up otherwise the part of the beet that is sticking out will remain uncooked.
- Drain and rinse in cool water.
- As soon as beets are cool enough to handle, use gloves (so you don’t stain your hands), run them under cool water while you slide the skins off with your hands.
HOW TO STEAM BEETS:
Steaming isn’t the best method of cooking whole beets because they are very dense and take a long time to cook, however steaming is a healthier method to cook beets than boiling as they will retain more nutrients. To steam beets:
- Trim the roots and stem and scrub them clean but don’t peel.
- Place them in a single layer in a steam basket.
- Add a couple inches of water to the steamer, bring the water to a boil, cover, and steam for about 1 hour or until the beets are tender. Periodically check the water level of the beets and add more if needed.
HOW TO COOK BEETS IN MICROWAVE:
The microwave is the fastest way to cook beets but I find they don’t cook as evenly and you can’t check their doneness during the process so it is less reliable:
- Scrub the beets clean but don’t peel.
- Prick the skin of the beets a few times with a fork.
- Place beets in a single layer in a microwave-safe dish with a glass microwave safe lid.
- Add about 1/2 inch of water to the dish and cover it with the lid.
- Cook the beets on high for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on the size of the beets).
- After the microwave turns off, leave the beets inside for 10 more minutes in order to steam.
HOW TO STORE COOKED BEETS:
Once you’ve cooked your beets using one of the above methods, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
TIPS FOR BEET Goat Cheese SALAD
- Prep ahead: Get giddy because you can prepare ALL of the ingredients for this Beet Goat Cheese Salad ahead of time – full instructions to follow.
- Make beet salad dressing first. Make the beet salad dressing first so it has time to chill and the flavors develop – no one likes warm salad dressing! If you are making the Beet Salad and serving immediately, place the dressing in the freezer for 30 minutes then transfer to the refrigerator so it is sufficiently chilled.
- Beet size. Choose small to medium size beets because large beets can taste woody and fibrous and have less flavor.
- Tips for handling beets. Red beets will stain anything and everything they come in contact with from your hands to your countertop to your cutting board, to your kitchen towels – so be careful! Use gloves at every stage of handling the beets to prevent staining your hands. To prevent staining your cutting board, cover it with a large piece of parchment paper.
- How to remove beet stains from hands. If beet juice does get on your hands, squeeze some fresh lemon juice directly onto the stain over the sink, rub it in, then wash with soapy hot water.
- How to trim beets. If you purchase beets with their stems still attached, chop off all but 1-2 inches of the stem and root so the stem doesn’t continue to pull moisture away from the beets.
- Don’t discard greens. The stems can be eaten raw in salads, on sandwiches or wraps, added to pastas or risotto like you would spinach, sautéed with garlic and lemon or even added to smoothies.
- Don’t peel before you cook. Once the beets are cooked, the peels slide right off!
- Cool beets completely. Chilled beets are best in this Beet Goat Cheese Salad not only for contrasting flavor but if they are still warm when added to the salad, they will wilt the greens. To prevent this, pop the chopped beets in an airtight container in the refrigerator or if you don’t have time, pop them in the freezer in an airtight container for 15 minutes.
- Customize dressing. Some people like tangier dressing, some people prefer sweeter dressing so I recommend starting with the beet salad dressing as writing then adjusting to taste. For sweeter, add additional maple syrup 1 teaspoon at a time, for tangier, add additional vinegar a teaspoon at a time.
- Tame Red onion: I recommend soaking the red onion in water first to remove some of the bite if you tend to find red onions too strong. To do this, place red onion in a fine mesh sieve, submerge the sieve in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove sieve and thoroughly dry onions with a paper towel.
- Scale Beet Salad recipe up or down. This Roasted Beet Salad is easy to double for a crowd or cut it in half for lunches or a small group.
- How to roast pepitas. If you can only find raw pepitas, then heat a drizzle of olive oil in a nonstick skillet, add your pepitas along with ¼ teaspoon salt stir until toasted. Turn onto a parchment paper to cool.
- How to deseed pomegranates. I won’t go into detail here but don’t be intimidated, there are lots of tutorials online. I would google “how to remove pomegranate seeds in water” for my favorite method. If don’t want to purchase a whole pomegranate and seed it yourself, just buy pomegranate seeds in a container.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad Recipe Variations
- Add protein. This Roasted Beet Salad recipe can instantly be made into a main dish salad by adding shrimp, salmon, chicken, steak or pork. Try doubling the dressing and marinating the protein in it before cooking.
- Add more veggies. You can add any veggies your heart desires but you’ll probably want to swap them for some of the beets. Bell peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower etc. would all be delicious.
- Add fruit. You can swap some of the oranges for other sweet fruit such as mangos, strawberries, pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, pears; just take care that you don’t make your Roasted Beet Salad too sweet with too much fruit. Creamy avocados would also be a welcome addition.
- Add grains. Adding cooked brown rice, farro, quinoa, couscous etc. immediately introduces another delectable texture.
- Add sweet potatoes or butternut squash. You can swap a pound of the beets for a pound of sweet potatoes or butternut squash. They take less time to roast, so you’ll want to roast them separately like I do in this Fall Salad recipe or remove them from the baking sheet before the foil packet of beets is done.
- Swap nuts. You can use walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc. – you can even caramelize cashews! If you don’t want to caramelize your own nuts, then you can buy them at stores such as Trader Joes. If you’re not sure your grocery store carries caramelized/candied nuts, be sure go ask!
- Swap seeds. If pepitas aren’t your thing, you can use sunflower seeds. You can also use pine nuts or pistachios – just make sure they’re roasted and salted!
- Swap cheese. You can any soft crumbly cheese such as feta, blue cheese or Gorgonzola.
MAKE AHEAD ROASTED BEET SALAD
This Roasted Beet Salad can be made 100% ahead of time then just tossed together when ready to serve!
- Beets. You can cook and chop the beets up to three days in advance, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Apples. The apple can be chopped up to 24 hours ahead of time and soaked in a mixture of apple juice and lemon juice. I’ve detailed several options below to prevent oxidation which begins as soon as you slice the apples.
- Red onions: You can chop the red onions up to 24 hours ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Nuts. The caramelized walnuts can be made up to one week ahead of time and stored in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container at room temperature. I often like to double the nuts for future use.
- Dressing: You can make the Beet Salad dressing up to 5 days ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I actually recommend making the dressing ahead of time because it allows time for the flavors to build and meld. Dressing also tastes 1000X better chilled.
HOW DO I KEEP APPLES FROM TURNING BROWN IN BEET SALAD?
- My favorite way to keep apples from oxidizing and turning brown after slicing is to put them in a bowl of apple juice with a splash of lemon juice. This way they retain their apple flavor and don’t become bitter like soaking in lemon juice can do.
- Alternatively, you can toss them in some of the dressing because the orange juice and vinegar will help keep them fresh.
- Thirdly, if you only have lemon juice on hand, then mix 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons lemon and then toss your apples in the mixture.
HOW DO I SERVE Beet Salad recipe?
There are three ways to serve this Roasted Beet Salad recipe:
- If you don’t expect or want leftovers: add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing.
- If you expect leftovers: add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl and dressing. Let individuals top dress their own servings with dressings.
- Create a Salad Bar: line up all of the salad ingredients in separate serving bowls and let guests assemble their own Roasted Beet Salad. This works particularly well if you are making Beet Salad a main dish salad with shrimp, steak, etc. and are including more of the veggie, fruit, grain or cheese variation options.
HOW LONG DOES ROASTED BEET SALAD LAST IN THE FRIDGE?
The Roasted Beet Salad recipe with ALL the ingredients is best served within an hour because the spring mix lettuce will become soggy. If you hold the dressing, the salad can last up to two days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, just be aware the beets will discolor the other ingredients – but they will still taste delicious.
What do I serve with Beet Goat Cheese Salad?
This Beet Goat Cheese Salad is a welcome addition to any table and goes with practically EVERYTHING! It makes a particularly delectable addition to any holiday or company mains such as Herb Butter Turkey, Brown Sugar Glazed Ham, Honey Baked Ham, Garlic Herb Butter Pork Tenderloin, Pot Roast, Beef Tips and Gravy, Beef Stroganoff, Garlic Butter Salmon, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Chicken Parmesan, and Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Roast Beef.
LOOKING FOR MORE HOLIDAY SALAD RECIPES?
- Apple Salad with Apple Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
- Fall Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
- Pear Salad with Creamy Pomegranate Dressing
- Green Bean Salad with Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
- Cranberry Apple Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Cranberry Pomegranate Ambrosia Salad
- Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Dressing
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