You are what you beet!
Beet and goat cheese salad is a classic, but it can be very basic. This one made with a preserved lemon vinaigrette turns it up a few notches so you’ll be dancing in the kitchen like Janet Jackson in Rhythm Nation.
Preserved lemons are found in many Morroccon dishes like tagine, and add a pickle-y brightness. The lemons are brined in salt, so the rind becomes soft, tender, and edible. The sour punch of lemon mellows out when it pickles, but is still intensely lemony.
I was introduced to preserved lemons during my Ottolenghi challenge in 2019 (you can read more about “My year with Yotam” on the About Me page). He uses preserved lemons in a myriad of dishes such as harissa-marinated beef, chicken meatballs, and watermelon & feta salad. I also like to add preserved lemons to a pan of vegetables before roasting in the oven, or tossing uncooked into a grain salad.
You can buy preserved lemons at the grocery store, orif you’re really ambitious you can make your own!
The vinaigrette recipe makes more dressing than is needed for the beet salad. The vinaigrette is best stored in the fridge, but do allow it to come to room temperature before using. It can also go on top of any salad where you want lots of brightness or could even be a good on a piece of salmon!
For the preserved lemon vinaigrette
2.5 oz preserved lemon
½ cup olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for roasting the beets
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, smashed
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of salt (if needed)
For the beet and goat cheese salad
1 pound beets
10 ounces mixed baby salad greens
2 ounces goat cheese, broken into small pieces
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Scrub the beets, but keep the skin on. Put beets on a cookie sheet or cast iron pan, rub with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife tip can easily slide inside the beet. Wait for the beets to cool, then remove the skin, and slice into quarters.
Make the preserved lemon vinaigrette: Remove any seeds from the preserved lemon, and roughly chop.
Add lemon, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, thyme, and pepper to an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor and emulsify. Taste the vinaigrette for balance. Is it too salty? Add a bit more honey. Too sweet? Add some salt. When the taste is balanced, set aside.
Add the baby mixed greens, shallots, beets, and goat cheese to a large bowl. Pour the ½ of the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss to combine. Serve immediately.