A simple lemony dressing adds a bit of zing to the earthy beets and fresh, creamy ricotta in this easy but very tasty salad.
When buying beets, look for firm, smooth skin. They are freshest when the greens are still attached and you can look for the condition of the greens. Don't discard them, they are delicious when braised, such as in a warm beet salad with greens.
Beets have a long growing season and farmers and gardeners in some areas can get a couple of crops each year, with the first crop planted in March or April and ready to harvest in 50 to 70 days. Winter crops are planted in late summer and fresh beets can be found in markets throughout the fall.
- 6 medium beets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for cooking
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic (optional)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup walnut (optional)
- About 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or fleur de sel
- Minced chives for garnish (optional)
- Roast or grill the beets. If you roast them, peel and slice the beets once they're cooked; if you grill them, peel and slice them first.
- In a medium bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Add the beets to the dressing and toss to coat them thoroughly.
- Lift the beets out of the dressing and divide them onto 4 to 6 salad plates.
- Divide the ricotta between the 4 to 6 salads, dolloping small bits of ricotta on and around the beets.
- Top with the walnuts, if you like. Drizzle the salads with the dressing left behind in the bowl.
- Sprinkle with the salt (add more to taste, if you like) and chives.
Grilling the beets will add a smoky flavor as well as bringing out their sweetness. However, you will have the prep step of peeling the beets and slicing them. The skins of beets can be tough, and if you are using red beets, you'll have the beet juice to contend with, so be sure to wear an apron and be prepared to clean the prep area. But grilling is a very fast option as it will only take about 20 minutes or less, brushing the beet slices with oil and grilling each side for 8 to 10 minutes.
Roasting beets in the oven can take as long as an hour. They are flexible, and you can roast them at temperatures from 325 to 425 F, brushed with oil and enclosed in aluminum foil. When cooled, you should be able to slip the peel off, rubbing with your fingers.