Good heavens, I had so many recipes planned to start the year but with the holiday, being distracted by visitors and then not being able to decide which recipe to work on first, I’ve been rather lax in my posting of late. Has anyone else had problems ramping it up after the break? In any case, I think I’m over the hump of laziness and am finding my stride. Our Beet and Arugula Salad with Candied Walnuts is the first in line!
Beets are a root vegetable that grow in summer but are able to winter in the garden, as well as being able to handle storage well. We often see them in the grocery stores but I would hazard a guess that they aren’t a vegetable that people reach for quickly. Why? Well, part of the reason is that while the colour of the beets are marvellous, they tend to bleed onto our hands staining them in preparation. And because we usually boil or steam them, does this cause us to believe that they take lots of time and work to prepare? To combat both these problems I have a couple of easy tips. Boil or steam the beets without peeling. Later, when you slip the skins off, much of their colour has bled into the water and while there is still staining, it’s not as intense as with a fresh beet; the skin also protects your hands as you peel. And to cut down on some of the labour, I’ll often boil/steam a double batch, use half and throw the other half in the fridge. Then, when I use them later in the week, I can just peel and go. Easy, huh?
I used honey instead of sugar to candy the walnuts and it works just as well, if not better. As I note in the recipe, candying or caramelizing ingredients take some practice, so don’t get discouraged if you over or undercook the syrup the first time. You can see the colour of the syrup above on the walnuts ….. that’s the colour you’re looking for. And you’ll quickly get to know when you have to add the nuts (or other item), or remove them when coated, to get perfectly candied beauties!
Nothing can beat a salad for freshness and what better way to take us into the new year?! Most salads I eat remind me of fresh winds, sunnier skies and invigorating breezes, but with a generous addition of beets, this salad can be used as a side dish or even a main lunch. Here’s a hearty and fresh meal that truly takes you back to the garden!
Beet and Arugula Salad with Candied Walnuts
A fresh and healthy salad to revitalize you!
- 1 1/4 pounds beets
- 7 cups arugula, washed and spun dry
- 3/4 cups candied walnuts (see below for instructions)
- 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup Easy Vinaigrette (approximately)
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon blood orange juice (optional, or use another citrus fruit)
- 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
If you are using baby beets, wash and boil or steam them without peeling. If you are using larger beets, peel, cut into quarters and boil/steam until they pierce easily with a fork, anywhere from 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets (if you have more time, you could boil the large beets whole with the skins and remove the skins later, but the cook time will increase). Remove from water, cool and slice into whatever size or design you'd like for the salad.
To prepare the walnuts, heat honey in a pan until melted and then add the butter. Bring to a simmer and cook until mixture reaches a darker golden colour, about 3-5 minutes although it can vary depending on your stove. (Candying items becomes an art rather than a science; you get to "know" the perfect time intuitively by practicing.) Quickly stir in walnuts, coat with mixture and then remove to a piece of parchment paper to cool. Separate as cooling or when cooled, whatever you prefer.
To prepare the vinaigrette, in a jar, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, blood orange juice, shallots and salt and pepper. Shake or whisk until combined.
On a serving plate or bowl, distribute the arugula and toss with about 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Top with the beets and drizzle another 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette (give or take) over them. Sprinkle with the candied walnuts and then the goat cheese. You can choose to add more vinaigrette if you wish; save any leftover vinaigrette for another salad.
Food for Thought: “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden