Roasted Beet-Walnut-Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese

This is one of my favorite salads. The juicy sweet beets with warm toasted walnuts and the creamy blue cheese is heaven in a plate. You could always use a milder option like goat cheese if you are not a fan of strong cheeses.

Ingredients
5 small red beets
1 pound baby spinach, washed and dried
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup blue cheese (substitute: gorgonzola , goat cheese or any other creamy cheese of your choice)

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp dried garlic
1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tbsp dried scallions
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Method
Pre heat oven to 375 F.

Wash the beets, sometimes they tend to be a bit muddy on the skin. Wrap the washed beets in aluminum foil, like a package. I had two large beets and three small ones. So I halved the large beets to make sure all the beets are around the same size which will help cook evenly. Place the foil package on a baking tray and put them in the oven. If some beet juices tend to flow out, you dont have a messy oven, they collect on the tray.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. This time might vary depending on the size of the beets. Make sure you check them after 30 minutes. Insert a small knife into the center of the beets and if it goes in easily, they are done. If not, leave them in for another 10-15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down.

Increase the oven temperature to 400F.

In another baking tray, spread the rough chopped walnuts around and place them in the oven for 10 minutes. When roasting nuts, make sure you always have an eye on them, they can easily burn.

Once the beets have cooled, scrub the outside and the skin should peel very easily leaving you with a juicy delicious roasted beet. Chop the beets into bite size (1″) pieces.

In a salad bowl, toss together the baby spinach, roasted walnuts and chopped beets. Be careful as not not over mix or bruise the beets while tossing or your entire salad will be red which is not very appealing.

Dressing:

In a bowl, add the lemon juice. Use of a fork or a small whisk and start whisking the lemon juice. While whisking, slowly stream in the olive oil and stop when the oil and juice are completely mixed together as a smooth blended liquid. If you dump all the oil all at once over the juice, the two liquids will not mix and you will have an inch of oil floating on top, again, not appealing.

Once you have a well emulsified liquid, add all the herbs, garlic and salt and mix well.

Plate a scoop of the salad, crumble fresh blue cheese on top and drizzle a spoon of the dressing. Serve with any fresh toasted bread.

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