I know. This is supposed to be an ordinary blog, for ordinary people. But this here Ordinary Blogger went out and bought some extra-special olive oil (at the recommendation of Mara from Kosher on a Budget), and it just didn't seem right to use it in an ordinary salad.
So I made an extraordinary salad. Shoot me. It involved roasted beets. Baby spinach. Fresh mozzarella. Toasted pecans. And fancy olive oil.
It also involved a very hungry (but patient) husband and a somewhat frazzled wife. I mean to say, who starts toasting pecans for dinner at 9:00 at night?
But this salad didn't disappoint. It was everything our taste buds were craving for. (Alright, I'll be honest, by the time I got this salad on the table, we would have eaten peanut butter sandwiches. Hungrily.) It was intensely flavored, a perfect marriage of salty and sweet.
I don't recommend making it on a harried weeknight. But this is a wonderful special occasion salad.
Spinach Salad with Beets and Pecans
You can roast the beets a few hours ahead of time. Just let them sit at room temperature till you're ready to toss the salad. You can even drain them on paper towels to get rid of some of the excess oil.
3 small beets
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
dash of black pepper
3-4 cups baby spinach, cleaned
a handful of pecans, toasted
a hunk of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in small cubes
First, roast the beets. Preheat the oven to 350*. Scrub the beets with a wire vegetable brush (or a clean piece of soap-less steel wool). Cut each beet in half from pole to pole and then in thick wedges. You should get 8-10 wedges per beet. Pour the oil on a large baking sheet and spread the beets evenly over the sheet. Sprinkle the salt over them and then turn them over so both sides are coated with oil. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the beets are tender. (Time varies a lot based on the age of the beets.) Remove them from the oven and let them come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Just combine the dressing ingredients in a small cup and mix well.
When the beets are cool, put the spinach, pecans, and cheese in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Arrange the salad on a platter and surround it with beets. Serve immediately.