Friday, September 3, 2010

Super Sweet Beet Salad with Feta Cheese and Sunflower Seeds

I have always been curious about beets, that bloody red root vegetable that always seems to get a bad wrap. In fact, when I spontaneously brought beets home from the supermarket, my mother felt it necessary to remind me of her unpleasant childhood beet memories. She apparently was forced to eat taste-less boiled beets. Her hate for beets grew deeper, and her mother continued to cook them for her. Her mother and grandmother have a history of being amazing cooks, so I do not know how "taste-less" those beets actually were. I'm sure I would gobble down those beets if I was sitting at that dinner table! I had no idea how to prepare/cook beets, so I did some research on the internet before I jumped into the kitchen.

I decided to roast the beets in a super-hot oven with salt, pepper, and a little balsamic vinegar. Beets are one of the most naturally sweet vegetables on earth, and I wanted to bring out their delicious sweetness. They took about an hour in the oven. I let them cool to room temperature and peeled of their skin. I was in a rush (I had work), so I quickly threw them in the fridge for the next day.

I was not planning on eating cold beets, and I now needed to brainstorm a bit. It was a hot summer day, so a cold, crisp salad would naturally be the best choice. Beets in a salad? Yes! I grabbed some ingredients that mesh well together and started chopping. My recipe for a Baby Spinach Summer Salad with Marinated Beets, Feta Cheese, Toasted Sunflower Seeds, and Garden-Fresh Tomatoes follows. I used a homemade Honey-Balsamic Dressing.


-2 cups packed baby spinach, chopped
-1 handful of bite-sized tomatoes, halved
-1/4 cup feta cheese
-1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
-1 big handful of roasted beets, peeled, halved, and marinated in the Honey-Balsamic Dressing (recipe follows)

-1/4 cup high-quality balsamic vinegar
-1/2 Tbsp honey
-Freshly cracked black pepper

Whisk together all three ingredients of the Honey-Balsamic Dressing and add beets. Let beets marinate in dressing for at least 30 minutes (I never wait this long because I get too hungry!).

Chop baby spinach and tomatoes on a large cutting board. Toast the sunflower seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown in color.

Arrange the baby spinach, tomatoes, marinated beets on a cold plate. Top with toasted sunflower seeds and feta cheese. Drizzle Honey-Balsamic Dressing in which the beets have been marinating over the entire salad. Enjoy.

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