Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Mint Drizzled with an Orange-Balsamic Syrup

by feastonthecheap on April 28, 2011

Mariel here. A few weeks ago on our Facebook page, I posted some pictures from our inaugural installment of Cookbook Club, which was hosted by a friend of mine who also happens to be the taste-test editor at Epicurious. For our very first gathering, we plucked recipes from Rozanne Gold‘s Radically Simple, which combines intensely-flavored ingredients in odd-duck pairings that blend beautifully – for the most part. As the name implies, all of Rozanne’s dishes are a snap to prepare, which was particularly important when doling out recipes to 15 cooks with a variety of different culinary comfort zones.

I was charged with creating a Rhubarb-Ginger Compote that was sinfully easy and stunningly delicious, but unfortunately, WAY too pricey for Feast. In NYC, the rhubarb set me back a breathtaking $8.99 per pound – and the recipe required 2-lbs of the tart stuff, as well as candied ginger and red currant jam, which also skew on the expensive side. All in all, a basic compote cost me upwards of $35 – which is a little too pricey for an ice cream topping, in my opinion. That being said, it was a real treat. Other highlights from the night included Rozanne’s Charred Broccoli Tossed with Chilies & Garlic and Brussels Sprouts with Medjool Dates.

The winner of the evening was an unassuming medley comprised of Beets, Balsamic Syrup, Mint and Walnuts. It was simple and elegant and packed a powerful wallop of flavor. I’m a beet freak and I can tell you that this was the best rendition I’ve ever tasted – at home or in a restaurant. When I recreated it in my own kitchen, I opted to tweak the balsamic syrup by sloshing in a few hits of freshly-squeezed orange juice, which is one of my favorite beety seasonings. I also crumbled in blue cheese and skipped the canned beets in favor of the oven-roasted variety. While I added a few personal flourishes, this is Rozanne’s recipe through and through and I thank her for bringing it into my life. As for the next Cookbook Club? We’ll be taking on Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi so stay tuned.

Interested in starting your own Cookbook Club but aren’t sure how to get the ball rolling? Email us at feastonthecheap[at]gmail[dot]com and we’ll clue you into a few key tips.

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Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Mint Drizzled with an Orange-Balsamic Syrup
Serves 4 as a side dish
Adapted from Radically Simple by Rozanne Gold

Ingredients:
8 medium-size beets – $4.75
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted – stock
2 big garlic cloves, smashed and divided – stock
½-cup fresh mint, chopped finely – $0.99
½-cup crumbled blue cheese – $1.87
½-cup Balsamic vinegar – stock
3 Tablespoons of orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed, you’ll need one medium orange) – $0.89
1 Tablespoon of olive oil – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $8.50
Cost per serving: $2.12

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Trim the greens off of beets leaving about ¼-inch of the stems. Wash and scrub. Place beets in a casserole dish filled with about a ¼-inch of water, cover tightly with tinfoil and roast for about 40 minutes, or until the beets are punctured easily with the tip of a knife.

2. Cool beets in the covered dish for about 10-15 minutes, then cut away the stems and slip off the skins. Roughly chop the beets into big, bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl.

3. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in an ungreased skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant (stir frequently since nuts go from toasted to burnt fairly quickly). This takes about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

4. In the same skillet, heat the Balsamic vinegar, OJ and one smashed garlic clove over medium-high heat. Boil until the liquid reduces by about half (approximately 4 minutes). Give it a good stir occasionally. Set aside.

5. In a small dish, combine the olive oil with the remaining smashed garlic clove.

5. Toss the beets with the Balsamic-OJ syrup and then toss again with the olive oil/garlic brew. Right before you’re ready to serve the dish, add the walnuts, blue cheese and mint to the beets. Do this at the last minute since beets inevitably stain everything they touch – it just makes for a prettier presentation. Enjoy!

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie M. April 28, 2011 at 7:28 am

I’m not a huge beet fan but I’ll admit, you make that salad look pretty darn delicious! Your cookbook club sounds like a lot of fun!

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merry jennifer April 28, 2011 at 8:32 am

I like the combination of balsamic, orange juice, and mint. I bet it compliments the beets quite well. I’m a recent (like within the last 2 years) beet convert, but I’ve yet to be able to convince my husband that they’re delicious.

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jennifer (Savor) April 28, 2011 at 8:57 am

Gorgeous flavors and recipe!

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Rachel @ Rachel's Recipe Reviews April 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

This looks so good. I love beets! What do you think would be a good substitute for the blue cheese? Feta? I just can’t bring myself to join the ranks of blue cheese lovers.

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feastonthecheap April 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

Definitely feta! That’s what Rozanne uses in her original recipe and it was wonderful – I just happen to be a HUGE fan of the blue stuff.

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Charlotte @ Weekends So Sweet April 28, 2011 at 11:54 am

This salad looks delicious but what I love most is your blue colander in the picture — such a fun pop of color and makes for a gorgeous background!

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Jeanette April 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Yummy, I love beet salad, and this dressing sounds so complementary to all the salad ingredients!

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Nutmeg Nanny April 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Beets are one of my most favorite foods. I love that you paired it with walnuts and blue cheese….yum!

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Maria April 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Gorgeous salad. I adore beets!

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Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. April 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm

omg I love y’all!! We have similar tastes!

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Rhonda April 29, 2011 at 1:14 am

I have a hard time with beets, I really try to love because they are so pretty. Your recipe tempts me to give them another go.

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feastonthecheap April 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I never liked beets as a kid, as my mom only offered the canned variety. These days, I gobble them up if they’re fresh and properly cooked. I do have to admit though, that I prefer them in a salad as opposed to naked and on the side. Give this a whirl. Who knows – it might make a convert out of you! Have a great weekend. Mary Anne

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Mandy - The Complete Cook Book April 29, 2011 at 5:25 am

What a fabulous taste explosion salad.
:-) Mandy

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Eryn April 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

My kids & I just adore beets. In fact, why haven’t I planted any yet this year? I suppose I better get on that!

How hard would rhubarb be for you to grow? My mother has two rhubarb plants that are at LEAST 50 years old. They die down in our horrible winters & spring back up in the spring. They just need lots of water. Lots.

Might be worth a try! I really like the look of the plant itself.

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feastonthecheap April 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Rhubarb isn’t too hard to grow as it seems to be fairly hearty. My mother-in-law had quite a garden and rhubarb was ALWAYS popping up in the spring/summer months. She made an apple-rhubarb pie that was (reportedly) amazing. I was a young, (bratty) wife and refused to eat those tart pies. Today, I’d give almost anything to sample her confections. Mariel and I are working up some kind of tribute to the late, great Dee that involves the beloved ‘barb, but we’re waiting for the prices to come down a bit before we tackle this pretty plant! Cheers! M&M

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Anne April 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Beets AND blue cheese just happen to be a few of my husband’s favorite foods. He will love this, I’m sure!

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LunaCafe April 30, 2011 at 12:43 am

This looks fantastic, Mariel! And what a marvelous idea to have a cookbook club. …Susan

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cooking rookie April 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm

What a wonderful, healthy recipe! Amazing!
I have only recently found your blog, but I am already a huge fan, so I am honored to pass on to you some food blog awards that I’ve received last week http://cookingrookie.blogspot.com/2011/04/passing-on-food-blog-awards.html.
Thanks for the great inspirational site!

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Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food May 2, 2011 at 10:52 am

Oh this looks good! Our salad season has arrived, I haven’t made anything with beets in WAY too long, and I love every single ingredient in this pretty salad. I’m bookmarking this for our next BBQ.

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MyMansBelly May 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Love roasted beets and I can only imagine how good this tastes with the orange balsamic syrup. Next trip to the farmer’s market, I’m going to get some beets and make this.

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Elle May 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I’m seeing beets everywhere today! I’m getting such a craving, and this salad seems like a wonderful place to start. Beautiful!

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Trevor Cook May 13, 2011 at 7:06 pm

This was great! I’m on a roll with your recipes and they have yet to disappoint! I used feta, but think I would like blue-cheese because I would prefer a stronger cheese to stand up to the walnut, mint, and balsamic. Delicious though!

p.s. my beets took a lot longer to cook, so anyone else trying this, don’t be worried if it takes longer than 40 minutes.. maybe mine were too big

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feastonthecheap May 14, 2011 at 12:02 am

Ooh, that’s good to know Trevor – how long did your beets take? Mine were on the medium to smallish side so 40 minutes was perfect, but I’d be curious to know how long bigger beets took you?

PS, if you’re into very savory saucy dishes (based on the mac ‘n cheese and sloppy joes you loved), I’d try the Chipotle-Spiced Pulled Pork next. SOOOOO good.

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