I’ll admit that when I grabbed a bunch of organic golden beets at our local grocery, King Soopers, the other day, I hadn’t a clue what I’d do with them except my main squeeze loves beets and I was bringing them home no matter. They looked all gorgeous, fresh and brightly colored with crisp whole greens attached, despite the healthy dirt around the edges. So whatever happened in that kitchen with those beets, it was going to make him happy. When folks say, “Food is love,” there’s something to it. More on that at the end. Because I regularly make goat cheese spread for our summer appetizers or even lunches while our herbs are plentiful, I always have a big log or two of chèvre (the plain white fresh goat cheese sold in nearly any grocery store) in the fridge. I had no problem considering a riff on the quintessential beet and goat cheese salad made by lots of cooks and in many restaurants worldwide. (Is that something you make or order if it’s on the menu?) What I didn’t like the idea of was turning on the oven for the hour it takes to roast those beets. Boiling them sounded worse, messy, and way too steamy for July. Why couldn’t I grill them in a grill pan on the stove? I thought about grilling them whole or in quarters, but that would take just way too long. Do people grill sliced beets? It seems they do according to google and I thought I’d just do it, too. A quick look-see into the fridge showed a bunch of fresh greens; radishes, scallions, red bell peppers and a single, lonely leftover roasted chicken breast I soon shredded within an inch of its life (always tastier than chopped — try it and see). Soon we were about to feast on one more whole meal salad outdoors. Thank you, summer!
Here are a few ideas about making the salad to get you started:
PREP AND GRILL THE BEETS FIRST; THEY TAKE THE LONGEST…. Shred the chicken and make the vinaigrette while they cook if you haven’t already done those things.
BELOW: Prepping the beets was done in a Denver minute — like a New York minute except with a view of the Rocky Mountains. Scrub well with a brush. Repeat, scrub well! Chop the greens and roots off, peel, and slice. Ta-da!!
BELOW: Grilling the beets isn’t hard in any way, but it does take a while — about 20 minutes. It needs to be done over medium flame or they’ll burn before they’re done as there’s a bit of sugar in these vegetables. Beets fare pretty well in the microwave, so I could have pre-cooked them in a little water there (covered) and my grilling time could have been shortened. You could even go way out on a “I don’t want to cook” limb, shred them and add them raw, but I’d grill them given a choice as it brings out their innate sweetness.
FRY THE GOAT CHEESE NEXT… but don’t do anything else while you’re doing it.
BELOW: Instead of crumbling the cheese as so many people do, I thought I’d slice and FRY IT, garnishing it with crushed red pepper for a little zing. Frying goat cheese doesn’t take long, but requires all your attention so it doesn’t turn into cheese whiz in the pan while you’re checking the baseball scores or trying to figure out why the Cubs let Rizzo go to the Yankees. (Geez.) It’s a tish messy and doesn’t always come out perfectly, but it eats well. I didn’t do this as I was in a hurry, but you’ll get a better crust if you slice the cheese, dip the slices first in beaten egg whites and then in flour or bread crumbs, and last, chill (or even briefly freeze) before frying. Some folks cut goat cheese with dental floss. I can’t be bothered, it seems. Lazy is as lazy does. If the cheese crumbles, pat it back together.
ALL THAT’S LEFT IS ARRANGING plus SEASONING THE SALAD. AND EATING, OF COURSE!
Grab some beets and try this:
Grilled Golden Beet and Chicken Salad with Crispy Goat Cheese
- 4 medium golden beets, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 5 ounces goat cheese (chèvre) sliced into 1/3-inch thick rounds — cold or frozen
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 cups fresh salad greens–your choice
- 2 scallions, trimmed and sliced thinly
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup sliced red radishes
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish
- 1 cooked chicken breast–boned, skinned, and shredded
- Crushed red pepper
- Sherry Vinaigrette (recipe in notes below)
- GRILL THE BEETS: Heat indoor or outdoor grill to medium. Toss sliced beets with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill beet slices for 8-10 minutes or until browned and well-marked. Turn and cook until tender –perhaps another 10 minutes — covering if necessary. If beets are cooking too quickly, lower heat. When done, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove to a bowl and reserve.
- FRY THE GOAT CHEESE: Dust the sliced cheese on both sides with a pinch of flour. (Chill again for 15 minutes if you have time.) Heat a small, nonstick skillet over medium-high flame and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pieces of cheese to the pan leaving a little space between each. As soon as brown on one side, carefully turn; brown on the other, remove to a plate and reserve. (Work quickly, paying attention all the while here, or you'll have cheese whiz.)
- ARRANGE THE SALAD/SERVE: Add the salad greens, scallions, red bell pepper, radishes, and cilantro to a large shallow bowl or platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with two tablespoons of sherry vinaigrette (recipe below) or to taste. Toss. Mound the chicken at the center of the salad and arrange the reserved grilled beets and goat cheese evenly around it. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper and add a few flakes of crushed red pepper to each goat cheese round. Drizzle with another tablespoon of sherry vinaigrette over all or to taste. Serve cool or at room temperature.
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- pinch each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard – or to taste
- 9 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
Do buy whole chickens or at least bone-in chicken breasts for this recipe. They taste so much better among many other things. Read all about it under TIPS: “The More Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts I Sell, the Worse I Feel.” Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2021. Moretimeatthetable.com All rights reserved.
Beets provide some impressive health benefits. Not to mention, they are low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including fiber, folate and vitamin C. Beets also contain nitrates and pigments that may help lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance.~Healthline
CHANGE IT UP/THINGS TO READ
- Any color beets will work in this recipe. Beets come in several colors; some are even candy-cane striped.
- Pickled beets are ok, too, but you might want to go easy on the vinaigrette or change the dressing to something creamy if that’s your choice.
- You could add sautéed beet greens (chopped and cooled) to the greens in the salad.
- Beets stain many things (some people wear gloves to handle the red ones especially), including urine and sometimes stool. The name for this is beeturia. Beets are even used for dyeing fabrics or other things.
- Crusty whole grain bread or crackers round out this meal and give you something to push the salad around the bowl with.
- No beets for you? Try grilled eggplant, zucchini, portabello mushrooms or summer squash instead.
- Don’t have radishes, red peppers, and scallions? Use the fresh veggies you have, trying for popping color if possible.
- No sherry vinegar? Make a lemon vinaigrette.
- Swap in any soft herb (basil, parsley, mint, chives, tarragon) for the cilantro if it’s not your cup of tea.
- Fresh mozzarella could replace the goat cheese. (Cut it 1/2-inch thick instead of 1/4-inch) Want to fry it? Check out this recipe.
- Vegan/Vegetarian? Skip the chicken and the goat cheese for vegan and only the chicken for vegetarian, and add grilled tofu.
- Diced grilled or roasted pork, ham, beef, salmon, or shrimp could replace the chicken depending on what’s in your fridge.
- Don’t skip seasoning your salad greens. It’s a critical part of good salad making.
- Have no grill inside or outside? You can cook these beet slices in a large skillet. (Consider buying a stovetop grill if this is the case.)
- Take my Salad Classes; start here.
- Wine Pairing for Roast Beets with Goat Cheese/THEVINEYARDDISTRICT
- How to grill beets/SPRUCEEATS
- Salad with Warm Goat Cheese/INAGARTEN
- GOLDEN BEET AND BEET-GREENS SALAD WITH YOGURT, MINT…./NYT/DAVID TANIS
- 7 Great Goat Cheeses You Should Know/SERIOUSEATS
- Can I Eat Beets Without Cooking Them/LIVESTRONG (hint: yes)
- Beetroot 101: Nutrition…./HEALTHLINE
- The More Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts I Sell, the Worse I Feel/BA
REDUCING FOOD/OTHER WASTE WITH THIS RECIPE:
- If you make this for one or two people, you’ll have leftovers and they’ll eat. They’ll eat better if you don’t dress the next day’s salad until the next day. Which will make you want to eat them more instead of tossing them in the compost pile or garbage.
- Extra vinaigrette should be refrigerated and will keep several days in the fridge. (It would keep longer without the shallots.) Shake well before using again and add more vinegar or oil to stretch it if need be.
- As noted above, sauté the chopped beet greens and stems to add to this salad, to another salad, into scrambled eggs, etc. They don’t keep real long, so deal with them quickly, but don’t waste them. They’re good food.
- Have more goat cheese? Make a cheese spread. Add it to pizza, tacos, other salads, or frittatas. Otherwise, it’s tasty on crackers or toast with a little jam or honey.
- Bones from the chicken breast can be frozen and added to the pot when making homemade chicken stock:
LIFE GOES ON:
Sending love and cyber chicken soup for when you need it,