Grill-roasted Beet Salad
My time on earth as a beet eater has not been very long—I never really had a taste for this vegetable, although didn't actively dislike it either. In recent years though my wife has picked up beets as a favorite of hers, which means they're often a starter of choice when we're at restaurants, and that's led me to come around and develop a similar affection for them as her. Up until now, they've been purely dining out fodder, but I figured it was time I familiarized myself with cooking them at home, and the grill is usually the first place I turn to as a cooking method, which brought me to this grill-roasted beet salad.
My hope was this recipe was going to turn out well and I'd be able to share it on the site, so I wanted the final product to look pretty for photos, which is the main reason I picked up both red and golden varieties of beets—to have some contrast for glamour shots. Since I had never cook beets before, I did some research on cooking methods and saw everything from super long roasted whole beets to thinly sliced versions that can cook up much quicker. I ended up settling on a whole roasted procedure that speeds up the cooking time by wrapping the beets in foil packets.
I actually had to make three packets of my scrubbed, oiled, and seasoned beets because the different color varieties needed to be cooked separately and then I also divide them up by size too, assuming the very large ones would cook much slower than the many smaller ones I had also purchased. Because I had them sitting around in the fridge, I tossed some springs of thyme and rosemary in with the beets, but I'm dubious that this made any noticeable difference in the end, so I didn't write it into the final recipe.
I would say the majority of the beet salads we get all have some sort of citrus, so I followed suit here and chose sweet-acidic oranges to go along with the earthy beets. Once I had the grill going, I figured I could make extra use of the fire and sear off those oranges to add an extra touch of grilled flavor and looks.
After I quickly got some color on my orange slices, I removed them from the grill and replaced them with the packets of beets, situating those close to, but not directly over, a two-zone fire. I then covered and let them roast. The foil creates an environment of high humidity, which cooks food much faster than if it were roasted naked. I've seen recipes calling for roasting beets for well over an hour to get them tender, but I started checking mine after about 20 minutes, and it was too long after that until the smaller beets were tender throughout. For the larger ones though, those required 40 minutes until they could pierced with a paring with no resistance felt.
I then let the beets rest until they were cool enough to handle. The skins then peeled right off and I was able to slice the beets into one-inch portions for the salad. I think one reason I haven't cooked beets is I feared dealing with the way they stain everything—similar to turmeric—so I took extra precaution and put some parchment down on my cutting board to make clean up a snap.
I actually cooked and sliced the beets in the afternoon for this salad that was destined for dinner. It wasn't until closer to serving time that I whipped up a dressing, which I used orange juice and oil as base. That didn't have enough acidity though, so I increased the tang factor with Champagne vinegar and lemon juice, and then added a squeeze of honey for a little sweet contrast.
I had also bought ricotta for use in the salad, and with thyme and lemon on hand, I decided it would be a good idea to give the cheese a bit of flavor by way of those two ingredients, which ended up adding a subtle, but nice herbal and citrusy touch in the end.
To assemble the salad, I spread a layer of ricotta on a plate, followed by a couple handfuls of arugula, and then piled on the slices of beets and oranges. I adorned those with sliced shallots, the dressing, and dollops of ricotta and served. I was cooking a lot of heavy, fried meals around the time I made this salad, so this dish felt very refreshing and a welcomed change of pace. I was all too happy to eat this as a main course with the hearty beets being filling enough to make it meal-worthy and the salad itself having a ton of flavor that satisfied on so many levels from the peppery arugula, creamy ricotta, tangy dressing, crunchy shallots, and sweet oranges. I'm glad I've let beets into my diet in recent years, and now finally onto my grill!
Grill-roasted Beet Salad
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 20 Minutes
- Inactive 30 Minutes
- Cook 45 Minutes
- Total 1 Hour 35 Minutes
- For the Dressing
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the Ricotta
- 3/4 cup fresh ricotta
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- For the Beets
- 2 pounds beets, unpeeled, greens stems removed, scrubbed clean
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 sprigs thyme
- For the Salad
- 2 large oranges, quartered
- 2 handfuls arugula
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- To make the ricotta: In a small bowl, whisk together ricotta, lemon juice, and thyme. Transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the beets: Toss beats with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer beets to the center of an 18x18" piece of heavy duty aluminum foil (if using different color varieties of beets, use a different piece of foil for each type). Fold foil over and crimp edges shut.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Prior to cooking the beets, place orange slices on hot side of grill, cut side down, and cook until lightly charred. Transfer oranges to a cutting board. Place foiled wrapped beets near, bu not directly over, the fire. Cover and cook until a paring knife can be interested into center of beets with no resistance, about 45 minutes. Remove foil wrapped beets from grill and let rest until cool enough to handle. Open foil, peel off skins from beets, and cut beets into 1-inch chunks.
- To assemble the salad: Cut away peels from orange and slice flesh into 1-inch chunks. Spread a thin layer of ricotta over a large serving dish. Place arugula on top of ricotta layer followed by beets, orange pieces, and shallot slices. Drizzle dressing all over salad and dollop on remaining ricotta. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and serve immediately.