I love beets. Their “dirty” sweet, earthy flavor always triggers something primal, making me think of early man, roasting gathered roots in the embers of a tribal fire. This recipe combines roasted and raw beets with lots of well-rounded high and low notes.

Ingredients

Maple Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pounds baby beets, preferably a mix of red and yellow
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • ½ cup Marcona almonds
  • ¼ cup micro arugula or pea sprouts

Method

Make the Dressing

Combine the shallots, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and maple syrup in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Season with salt and pepper. Shake until well mixed.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the beets well and trim the root end. Cut two 12-inch sheets of aluminum foil. Lay one piece of foil on your work surface and put the beets in the center. Drizzle with a 3-count of olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover with the second piece of foil and crimp the edges several times to make a pouch. Place the pouch on a baking sheet and roast the beets for about 1 hour or until a knife pierces a beet smoothly. (You can stick the knife right through the foil.) Take the pouch out of the oven, open it up to let the beets cool, and then peel the beets and cut each into 4 wedges.

Place the goat cheese in a mixing bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Beat vigorously with a whisk until the oil and goat cheese are combined and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the salads, dollop the goat cheese mixture onto a serving plate. Scatter the beets and almonds over the goat cheese and drizzle with vinaigrette. Top with the arugula.

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