Tim and I got a new bathroom ceiling this week. First, we got a massive ceiling bubble that Tim had to pop with a knife, straddling the toilet and the tub, a five-gallon bucket in his other hand while water shot from the ceiling cyst like milk from a cow; but then, beginning Wednesday and ending, hopefully, right around the time this post publishes, a nice handyman named Jim patched and worked and painted things, and our ceiling looked like a ceiling again. I’m not afraid to use the bathroom anymore, and I don’t have to drive down the street to White Castle to sneak into the ladies’ room, so obviously things are looking up. Also, Monday night and Tuesday night, like rewards for the days we’d survived and laughed through, the two of us sat down to matching plates piled high with salads like this one. Even I have to admit it’s hard to complain when your plate is full of this.
Suffice it to say, because it’s been, around here, a week of surprises, and not the good kind, I don’t want to hit you with any curveballs today. Today is not a day for tucking a detail about prep work into the directions; today is a day to give you all the potential bad news upfront. That’s why I’m going to tell you right now that this is not a beginner’s salad. If you’re married to a salad hater or still have to hide your kids’ spinach in their brownies, this is not the salad to make. Our greens—unnamed here while we wait for confirmation from our CSA farmer on their variety—were slightly bitter the way hearty greens can sometimes be. There are beets and pumpkin seeds mixed throughout—foods we’ve grown to love, but which newer whole-foods eaters might need time to appreciate. And the vinaigrette, made of green onions, lemon juice, maple syrup and a hit of cayenne, will definitely appeal best to a more refined palate.
If you’re still reading at this point, well, first, thank you, and, second, there is good news. If you roast the beet ahead of time, the way all Tamar Adler readers will probably be doing right as they bring home their food, putting together this salad is wildly simple: Whir the dressing in the food processor; combine ingredients; done. If you’ve never roasted beets before, I’ve got good news there, too: It’s easy. Here’s proof.
Also, while the flavors are more refined, they’re refined in the way of four-course meals and expensive wine. Refined can be a good thing, and, in this case, it surely is.
The more the flavors meld together, the more this salad shines. Tangy greens, thin slices of cool beets and the crunch of pumpkin seeds, with smears of goat cheese spread throughout, is the kind of combination to savor. It’s a welcome reward at the end of a weekday, broken ceilings or otherwise, and a reminder of the goodness that comes from sitting down to the table, pausing at it and focusing on the good before you, which, in this case, is an overflowing, colorful plate of food to eat.
Beet and Lettuce Salad with Green Onion Vinaigrette
Serves two as dinner; three to four as a side
One more quick note: You’ll notice in the directions that we only used half the salad dressing here, so, theoretically, you could halve the dressing ingredients for a better fit. I blended mine in the Vitamix, though, and I find it doesn’t like having very tiny combinations to blend. The little extra dressing it yielded was just a bonus, perfect for my leftover beets.
8 ounces lettuce, roughly chopped
1 large roasted red beet, sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
for the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine chopped lettuce, sliced beet, pumpkin seeds and goat cheese in a large bowl.
Combine green onion, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper in a food processor or Vitamix; while blending, slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture emulsifies and becomes the consistency of a vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle dressing on lettuce bowl; toss; taste and add more dressing until the salad tastes the way you want it. We used about half the dressing (and are saving the rest in the fridge for later).
PS, Bonus recipe! If you’ve scrolled all the way to the bottom of this post, you get a prize. For a bonus recipe based on the one in this post, leave out the greens and use up leftover roasted beets and vinaigrette this way: Slice two beets as thinly as possible and arrange straight across a plate. Top with pumpkin seeds, crumbled goat cheese, drizzles of vinaigrette and drizzles of honey. You’ll feel like you’re dining in a fancy restaurant, and the meal takes 5 minutes to make.