The classic salad combination of roast beetroot, goats cheese, walnuts and rocket (arugula) is taken to new heights with a sweet-sour pomegranate molasses dressing and candied walnuts. The extra flavour and crunch they both bring to this salad is wonderful. This is a very easy salad to prepare. Once the beetroots have been roasted, and the dressing made (all the ingredients are shaken together in a jar), it is just a matter of assembling. Everything can be prepared ahead of time, making this salad ideal when entertaining. I hope you try this version. It’s our absolute favourite!
We LOVE this salad. Every mouthful is full of flavour. The sweet sour pomegranate molasses dressing complements the creamy, salty goats cheese and earthy beetroot beautifully. The addition of ‘candied’ walnuts gives extra texture and crunch to the salad and the rocket (arugula) leaves bring freshness and greenery. A really great combination! Don’t skimp on the goats cheese, as this combined with the dressing and beetroot is what creates the perfect balance of flavour in every mouthful.
This salad is hearty enough to have as a meal on its own, or it can be served as a side with other dishes. We particularly enjoy it served alongside beef, lamb, duck and salmon.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make my version of this classic salad…
- Beetroot – any size beetroot will do. If I can get baby beetroot, I tend to buy these. If you can, buy beetroot with the stalks and leaves attached, as they tend to be fresher. The stalks and leaves can be used in other dishes. Simply wash and wilt them down in a frying pan with a little olive oil and save for later. They can be used in soups, stir-fries, pies, frittatas, pasta dishes and any where else you might want some green goodness. They taste almost like silverbeet.
- When using baby beetroot, I will leave the smallest beetroots whole and cut others into halves. If using medium sized beetroots, I will cut them into quarters and the larger ones into wedges. The beetroot are roasted for this recipe. Roasting the beetroot concentrates their flavour and brings out their sweetness. I like to roast them in an aluminium foil pouch/parcel in the oven which allows the beetroot to cook all the way through as well as caramelise them. Using this method allows the beetroot to steam and roast without them shrivelling up too much and drying out.
- Pomegranate Molasses Dressing – the dressing is made using pomegranate molasses syrup, red wine vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, extra-virgin olive oil and maple syrup. Everything is shaken together in a jar (or whisk in a jug or bowl) – simple! A delicious syrupy consistency that clings to the rocket and beetroot, and mixes perfectly with the creamy goats cheese.
- Goats Cheese – I like to use cubes of soft goats cheese which have been marinated in oil. I use Merediths Marinated Goat Cheese in Australia, which are creamy, salty cubes of goats cheese. You can substitute with feta cheese, but choose a creamier variety like Danish Feta, instead of a firmer feta. The cheese is broken up slightly and crumbled over the salad. The softer, creamy and salty nature of the goats cheese marries beautifully with the Pomegranate Dressing.
- Walnuts – the walnuts are candied in this recipe. This is a very simple process that is carried out in a small heavy based saucepan on the stove-top. It only takes a few minutes to do, and the extra crunch and sweetness that the candied walnuts bring to the salad is worth the effort. Often plain walnuts are used but for me, the candied walnuts have more presence and character in this dish.
- Rocket (Arugula) Leaves – the freshness of rocket with its peppery and slightly tart flavour is a great addition to this salad. It works well with the sweetness of the beetroot and dressing, and the creaminess of the feta.
All the elements of this salad can be prepared ahead of time which makes it easy for entertaining.
- Beetroot – I roast the beetroot earlier in the day and set it aside covered at room temperature until required. The beetroot can be roasted 2-3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remove it from the fridge on the day you use it, to allow the beetroot to come to room temperature.
- Pomegranate Dressing – Make the dressing up to 2 days in advance and keep refrigerated. Remove from the fridge on the day of use to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Walnuts – Walnuts can be candied earlier in the day or the day before. Keep in an airtight container or jar. The quantity in this recipe makes more than you need for the salad. Great for snacking on though!
- Goats Cheese – if using goats cheese that is marinated in oil, I remove the cubes from the oil earlier in the day and place them in a container lined with paper towels to soak up some of the oil. Cover and place back in the fridge until it’s time to assemble the salad.
- Rocket (Arugula) Leaves – wash the leaves earlier in the day, and pat dry. Place them in a container lined with damp paper towels. Cover the top of the leaves with more damp paper towels and seal. The damp paper towels keep salad leaves lovely and fresh. Store in the fridge until ready to assemble the salad.
I hope you enjoy this recipe!
- oven tray
- heavy based saucepan
- 700 g trimmed beetroot baby or medium sized, stems removed, topped and tailed (approx 4-5 bunches baby beetroot)
- 30 ml olive oil extra virgin
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 125 g rocket (arugula) leaves washed and dried
- 125 g goats cheese or Danish feta (see notes)
- 20 g butter salted
- 1 c walnuts
- 30 g caster sugar
- small pinch of salt
- 30 ml pomegranate syrup
- 30 ml red wine vinegar
- 30 ml orange juice freshly squeezed
- 60 ml olive oil (1/4 cup)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan forced or 190°C.
To Prepare Beetroot:
- Cut the stems off the beetroot and trim the bottom roots. You want to have approx 700g of beetroot for this recipe. Wash them well. Leave the smaller sized baby beetroots whole, and cut others in half or quarters so they are all roughly the same size. If using medium sized beetroot, cut into quarters or into 6 wedges.
- To make a parcel for the beetroot to cook in, add a layer of aluminium foil (the same size as the tray) onto the oven tray followed by a layer of baking paper. Place all the beetroot pieces onto the baking paper and drizzle with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Massage the oil into the beetroot and spread them out leaving a 3cm gap around the edges of the baking paper. Complete the parcel by layering another piece of baking paper over the beetroot, followed by aluminium foil over the top. Fold or scrunch the edges around the beetroot to seal the edges and create a parcel. Place the tray into the preheated oven and roast the beetroot for 45 minutes, then remove the top layers of foil and paper and check the beetroot. Continue to cook uncovered for 5-15 minutes or until beetroot is tender and can be pierced easily with a fork. Keep an eye on them in the last few minutes. They should be slightly caramelised and be cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir briefly, then leave the sugar until it is almost melted (less than 30 seconds). Add the nuts and a small pinch of salt, and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes or until you notice the sugar and walnuts starting to change to a golden colour. Stir a few seconds more, making sure all walnuts are coated. Pour the golden walnuts out onto baking paper and spread them out so they don’t stick together. Leave to cool. Chop some of the larger whole walnuts in half.
- Place all the ingredients into a jar. Seal with the lid and shake well to combine. Alternatively, place all the ingredients together into a bowl or small jug and whisk to combine.
To Assemble the Salad:
- Spread the rocket leaves out on a large platter. Drizzle over some of the dressing and toss. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the beetroot and half the walnuts and toss again. Crumble over the goats cheese, add more dressing and toss the salad gently. Scatter over more of the walnuts. You may have a little dressing left over.This is a room temperature salad. Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.Enjoy!