How to make this salad in 10 easy steps while on vacation:
1) Geek out over the beauty of SAVORY GRANOLA on SALAD. When you realize that your vacation condo in Portland is equipped with 2 out of the 20 ingredients you need for this particular salad (salt and pepper), you waffle for a few days until your parents spontaneously decide to buy some olive oil and goat cheese. Four down, sixteen to go. You decide to go for it.
2) Proceed to Whole Foods.
3) Give thanks for the bulk section, where you procure oats and walnuts. Try not to get distracted by the rest of the bulk section (jade jasmine rice! Untoasted buckwheat groats! Wild rice on sale!) as you head to the spice section and add a jar caraway seeds to the cart. They’re nowhere to be found in the bulk section and you’ll definitely use those in the future. Plus they’re plane-safe.
4. In the produce section, pick out the two freshest looking heads of kale (pause to gawk at the price), a bunch of beets, and a shallot.
4a) Attempt to not gawk at the WALK-IN BEER CLOSET in the middle of the store. What is this, Spec’s? Ponder whether this is a feature in all Whole Foods that you’ve somehow missed. Consider whether this is why everyone’s moving to Portland.
5) Undeterred by the head-sized hunks of parmesan cheese on display, ask the cheese lady if she has any smaller chunks that might be “about ¼ cup grated.” And actually, you’re looking for pecorino, not parmesan. Thank her profusely when she cuts and wraps a tiny chunk of cheese the size of your two little fingers.
6) Meander around the salad bar for 10 minutes before finally asking the deli guy whether they have any of those little plastic containers for salad dressing. Also if they have any of those little soy sauce packets. Follow him to the sushi section where he shows you a container full of said packets and gives you one plastic container for dressing. Once he leaves, fill up that container with as much red wine vinegar as you can.
7) When another 10 minutes of wandering uncovers no hidden sample packets of Dijon mustard or honey, give up. Asking for another salad dressing container to sneak some of the honey-dijon dressing is out of the question.
8) When your father points out that the salad bar contains roasted beets, immediately return the bunch of fresh beets (you’re on vacation, after all), and fill up a salad container.
9) Return home to find that the precious finger-sized cheese is nowhere to be found. Decide a suitable substitute for the grated cheese called for in the granola would be to mash a soft cheddar cheese you have on hand into the oil mixture. When it sort of emulsifies and works, your unfairly boosted confidence leads you to smash part of a pear with a fork and as a substitute for the egg white + honey. Once you bake the cheesy, oily, pear-infused mixture together with the dry granola ingredients, you are shocked to find that it actually tastes…delicious.
10) Massage the kale. Sprinkle cheese. Eat salad and grilled foods with your family on the rooftop of the condo while soaking in beautiful, humidity-free Portland sunshine. Give thanks for vacation and Whole Foods everywhere.
Thanks to California Walnuts and Food52 for providing inspiration for this salad! If you didn’t quick pick up on this, this salad is my contribution to a virtual salad party in conjunction with California Walnuts. As I hopefully conveyed in this post, this salad is so great that you can even cobble it together on vacation with a lot of ingredients missing and it will still taste fabulous. I can only imagine how amazing it would taste as written!
Though one of my favorite salads, I often feel that beet and goat cheese salads have been beaten to death. A savory granola seemed like a brilliant move to perk it up–and honestly, savory granola on salad is my favorite food discovery of 2014 so far.
It might seem time-consuming to make a batch of granola on top of roasting beets, massaging kale, making dressing, etc. etc. but it is SO WORTH IT. Each salty, golden cluster of granola positively burst with flavor–it’s SO umami. Plus, as a texture medium, granola disperses crunch far more evenly than croutons. I loved the earthy notes of the caraway seeds in the granola so make sure you don’t leave them out!
Each of the components (beets, granola, dressing) can keep for many days in advance, so I would recommend doing all the roasting/baking on one day. If you’re not serving a large crowd all at once, I would toss each serving of salad separately to keep the granola from getting soggy. (The recipe below makes an ENORMOUS salad with a pretty large batch of granola that will last you for multiple meals as a salad accent.)
GIVEAWAY! Finally! A present for making your way through this very long post! I’m giving away a copy of Aida Mollenkamp’s latest cookbook, Keys to the Kitchen, courtesy of California Walnuts! I’m so excited to add this vibrant, well-illustrated cookbook to my collection not only because Aida’s recipes all look so inventive and delicious but because it’s literally packed with knowledge on how to become, as the tagline goes, a more accomplished and adventurous cook. It seems like it could be anyone’s go-to cookbook, whatever your cooking experience level may be. To enter the giveaway for Keys to the Kitchen, leave a comment on this post about anything you like! If you’d like to earn additional entries, feel free to follow me on: Just leave me a comment telling me what mediums you’ve chosen to follow and I’ll give you an additional entry for each medium. If you’re already following me, let me know and you’ll still earn the additional entries! This giveaway will end on Friday, June 20.
Congratulations to Lynn!
Baby beet salad with chevre and walnut granola
- For the granola:
- 1 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup walnut halves roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup soft white cheddar cheese with caramelized onion or any soft cheese
- 2 tablespoons mashed pear
- For the beets:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 pound beets peeled and cut into sixths
- salt + pepper
- For the vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 medium shallot minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt + pepper
- To assemble:
- 2 heads lacinto kale rinsed and chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese chevre, crumbled
- For the granola:
- Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Combine oats, walnuts, caraway seeds, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
- Combine the oil and soy sauce in a small bowl. Mash the cheese into the oil mixture using a fork or your fingers until a rough, oily paste forms--you are trying to emulsify the cheese and liquid together here. Stir in the mashed pear. Pour the wet mixture over the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown throughout, stirring every 10 minutes, about 25 to 30 minutes total (the granola will continue to crisp as it cools). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the granola cool completely. (Granola can be made up to 5 days in advance; store in an airtight container at room temperature.)
- For the salad:
- Heat the oven to 400°F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Spread the beets on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil, salt and pepper. Roast the beets for 20 minutes then remove from oven and flip onto other side. Roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re knife tender and golden brown. (Beets can be roasted up to 5 days in advance; store refrigerated in an airtight container.)
- For the vinaigrette:
- Place all ingredients in a jar, season with salt and pepper, close, and shake until all ingredients are incorporated and come together as a vinaigrette, about 30 seconds. Just before serving, taste, adjust seasoning as desired. (Vinaigrette can be made up to 5 days in advance; store refrigerated in an airtight container.)
- To serve, massage the kale by scrunching it in your fists until it softens (it should turn a darker shade of green and become aromatic). Divide the kale among serving plates, top with roasted beets, chevre, granola, and drizzle each salad with a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette.