This is a very simple beet salad with a great combination of complex flavors. You can enjoy it at room temperature or refrigerate and serve it cold. In my experience, this salad is very popular, so it tends to go fast.
You’ll steam the beets using a steam basket or in the microwave until tender and then, when they are cool enough to handle, you’ll pull the skins off. A good lid is important when cooking beets to avoid splattering beet juice. Since beets stain fabrics and porous surfaces, you might want to put some precautions in place and choose your cutting board, clothing and dish towels accordingly.
Once the beets are peeled, you’ll cube them into bite-sized pieces. You can toast the walnuts, dice the citrus and mince the garlic while the beets are cooking. You’ll combine these ingredients in a serving bowl, toss with a bit of sesame oil, top with crumbled feta cheese and season with salt and pepper. The flavors in this salad work so well, I have never messed with it. But I could imagine a bit of fresh mint or fennel could be interesting additions.
Note: Boiling the beets in a big saucepan with a lid is a fine alternative to steaming.
Any variety of beets such as golden, red or chioggia will work and be pretty in this salad. If your beets still have their nutrient-packed greens attached, plan on finding a use for them such as a curry, stir-fry or soup. Or, if you are currently well-stocked with greens, you can blanch them quickly and freeze them to use another day.
1 lb beets, cooked and peeled (5-7 small or 3-4 medium)
2 large oranges, peeled and diced
1 c walnuts, chopped and toasted in oil or butter
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
½ c crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Kosher or flaky salt and fresh ground pepper
Cook the beets:
Scrub the beets really well with a brush. Leave them whole with about an inch of the roots and stems on for now to prevent the color from bleeding out too much while cooking.
Place them in a large saucepan with a steam basket and water up to the steam basket. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; steam covered for 20-40 minutes or until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Check the water level every 10 minutes to make sure the water didn’t boil away. The cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beets.
When they are cool enough to touch, cut off the ends and rub off the skins with your fingers or use a paring knife. Cut the beets into bite-sized pieces.
Toast the walnuts, cube the oranges and mince the garlic
You can toast nuts in an oven (or toaster oven), in a dry skillet or a skillet with oil or butter. The most important thing is to keep an eye on them because they can burn really quickly. For this recipe, I like to toast the walnuts with butter (or vegan butter) to add richness and round out the flavors of the salad.
Place the butter in a skillet with heat on medium-low. Add the chopped nuts and stir to coat. Toast, stirring occasionally for about 5-8 minutes.
Peel the oranges, cut away the thick membrane, and cube.
Peel and mince the garlic.
Toss everything into a pretty bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Top with crumbled feta cheese and serve.