I’m a (huge) fan of salads.
They’re one of my go-to sides and are easily one of my favourite meals to make when I’m cooking for one. I frequently order them in restaurants, too – particularly is blue or goat cheese is involved.
I love salads, but they require a few key components for them to be satisfying enough to be considered a meal. First and foremost, they’ve gotta be voluminous. Lots of produce. Secondly, they have to have a protein component. Chicken, fish, steak, eggs, even cheese if enough is used (there’s no such thing).
Actually, cheese is almost always a requirement, which brings me to the next essential component: a couple of fat sources. From cheese, obviously, and/or avocado and/or oil (olive is my fave) and/or nuts. This is KEY for lasting satisfaction. Finally, there has to be flavour and variety – I’m talking a variety of vegetables, different types of greens, a sweet component such as fruit.
Simple cheese, nut and fruit salads are my all-time loves. They’re healthy, well-rounded, packed with flavour. This beet and goat cheese salad is one version. While beets aren’t a fruit, they have an earthy sweetness I absolutely love (is it just me, or do people tend to either love/loathe beets? I definitely fall into the former category). The fresh goat cheese adds a decadent creaminess, and the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar ties in all together in such a way that one could almost call this salad decadent. Topped with chicken, it makes for a wonderful light dinner with a side of red wine and chocolate. Otherwise, it makes a wonderful side dish to many meals, especially pastas.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Walnuts – Serves 1 as an entrée, easily multiplied
– 2-3 cups of mixed greens (I like a combination of leaf lettuce, romaine and spinach)
– 1/2 small vidalia onion, thinly sliced
– 1 large beet or 3 small beets, roasted and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
– 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
– 1/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
– 1 small chicken breast, baked or grilled (optional)
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1-3 tsp olive oil (Note: I like my vinegar:oil ratio to be 3:1, which is quite acidic for some; adjust accordingly)
– 1/2 tsp honey
– 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
– Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl, toss together greens and onions. Tops with beets, crumbled cheese, and toasted nuts. Top with sliced chicken, if desired.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients (from the balsamic vinegar to the salt and pepper); pour over salad. Devour.
To roast beets: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash beets, toss with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast for 45-60 minutes (until easily pieced with a fork). Let cool, peel and slice.
To toast walnuts: Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add nuts and stir constantly to avoid burning. They’re toasted when they are lightly browned and give off a fragrant, “nutty” smell.