This is a super, super easy salad that I think looks so pretty. The star of the show is the bleu cheese mousse -- which honestly is just a much thicker good bleu cheese dressing. You can compose this salad however you like, but the mousse is designed to be able to sit in between thinly sliced perfectly roasted beets like a tower. I added the lightly dressed arugula on top and all around, and topped with a sprinkling of barely toasted walnuts for texture. A good turn of freshly ground black pepper is a perfect finishing touch. This recipe serves 4 people, appetizer size.
Roasted Beet Salad with Bleu Cheese Mousse, Arugula, and Walnuts
3 medium-large red beets (you can also use orange or whatever color beet you like, or a combination)
1/4 cup walnuts
6 oz creamy gorgonzola cheese
2 Tbsp marscapone cheese (can sub with a good cream cheese as well)
white balsamic vinegar
about 3 cups fresh arugula (can sub with baby spinach for milder taste; watercress for spicier bite)
good quality extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
First, roast the beets. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take the beets and cut off the bottom roots and top stems. Wash them (leave the skin on). Cover the beets completely in aluminum foil (like you would a baked potato) and place on oven-proof baking dish. Roast in oven until soft and tender, and easily pierced with a fork, about 35-50 minutes depending on the size of the beets. When tender, remove from oven and carefully open the aluminum foil. Let stand to cool.
While the beets cook, you can do the walnuts and mousse.
To toast the walnuts, simply place the nuts in a dry aluminum sauté pan. Cook on medium-low heat, turning occasionally with a spatula or spoon, until they just begin to become fragrant and turn light golden. No need to use extra oil or butter because the walnuts when heated will release their own natural walnut oil, which will help to toast them. Remove promptly from the pan and set aside.
To make the mousse, place the gorgonzola cheese, marscapone cheese, a small pinch of salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor. Add about 1/4 tsp of the white balsamic vinegar, and mix to combine the ingredients. The result will be a very, very thick bleu cheese type dressing.
If you are planning to make this for a dinner or event, you can roast the beets, walnuts, and make the mousse ahead of time and keep all elements refrigerated until you're ready to compose the salad.
Take the beets and using the back of a knife (i.e., not the sharp part you normally cut with), begin to scrape down the skin around the beet. You'll see it will come off quite easily. Discard the skin then take the beet and slice it thinly. Set aside.
Place the arugula in a mixing bowl. Season it with salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle with some olive oil and a small splash of the white balsamic. Toss to coat.
To assemble the salad, simply Take a slice of beet, top with some mousse, another slice of beet on top, and continue to build towers however tall you'd like. Make as many or as little towers you wish. To plate, add a little bit of the arugula to the middle of the plate. Place your tower on top -- the arugula will help to anchor the beets to the plate -- and top with a generous heap of more dressed arugula on top. Sprinkle with a few walnuts and add a fresh crack of black pepper. Serve.