Beets and goat cheese are a salad combination that can only be enhanced by savory-sweet crunchy walnut granola!
Yes, salad granola. A refreshing change from croutons! Although it’s hard to stab on its own with a fork, I love granola for the crunchy texture it brings to salads–and the more even dispersion than you get with croutons.
Thanks to California Walnuts and Food52 for providing inspiration for this salad! 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 the year 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 for several salads.)
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
- 2 heads lacinto kale rinsed and chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese chevre, crumbled
Make 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.)
Roast the beets
- 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.)
Make 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.