Sometimes I’ll come up with a clever idea for a recipe and think that it’s the best thing ever. I’ll pat myself on the back for my creativity, a little enamored with the concept. Then I’ll check the Internet. Everything has already been done, of course, and it’s something that I have to make peace with. Such is the case with these grilled beets. Of course I am not the first person to consider grilling this polarizing root vegetable. Fire is the first way we cooked.
And as with all things cooked over fire, the earthy flavor of a beet is elevated. I like to temper that intense flavor when I cook with them, and the Balsamic vinegar, creamy goat cheese and peppery arugula all do a fine job of that. The smoky, charred finish on these beets takes them to the next level. Tuck them onto the side of the grill while you’re cooking something else. This is a perfect salad to kick off grilling season.
Grilled Beet Salad
8-10 baby beets
6 cups lightly packed arugula, rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 ounces fresh chevre, crumbled
Freshly cracked black pepper
Rinse the beets and prick them lightly with a fork. Wrap each beet in foil, and place on a hot grill to roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes, covered. (Alternately, you can roast the beets in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the same amount of time.) Please note that due to the variability of grills, your cooking time may vary. Err on the cautious side and check sooner if your grill runs hot. Set the beets aside to cool.
While the beets are roasting, prepare the dressing. Mix the vinegar with the minced garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
When the beets have cooled to the touch, remove their skins and slice them in half lengthwise. The grill should be quite hot for this final round. (Refresh the coals if needed.)
Lightly oil the cut surface of the beets and place them face down on the grill. They only need a few minutes — just enough time to give them a little smoky flavor.
In a large salad bowl, toss the arugula with the dressing. Top with the crumbled goat cheese, walnuts and beets.
All photos by Kimberley Hasselbrink.
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.