Thursday, February 16, 2012

Roasted Beets & Sheep's Milk Feta

No blog can get through the winter without sharing at least one beet recipe. Although warm, or even hot beets can be pretty darn delicious, I can't resist a roasted beet salad.

Typically, beet salads feature a goat cheese and are dressed too heavily. I like to lighten up the flavors with an orange and mint champagne vinaigrette. And thanks to Sitka & Spruce, I can't help but use sheep's milk feta instead of goat cheese, which I think helps to prevent the cheese from stealing the spotlight.

To offset the noticeably creamier sheep's milk feta, I like to use the bitterness of arugula. Finally, I use the sweet and salty nuttiness of salty candied hazelnuts (rather than the more typical plain toasted hazelnuts or strictly sweet hazelnuts) to round out the dish and add some crunch.

So here's my go-to recipe when I'm craving that tender earthiness that only beets have to offer.


Ingredients for four appetizer servings of Roasted Beets & Sheep's Milk Feta
4 small handfuls of arugula
4 small red beets
4 small golden beets
3 T extra virgin olive oil + extra to coat the beets
1 medium navel orange
2 T champagne vinegar
2 pinches finely chopped fresh mint
1 generous handful of salty candied hazelnuts (Whole Foods sells some of my favorites, or you can follow this great recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
4 to 6 oz of sheep's milk feta (depends on just how much you love the stuff)
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Scrub all the beets and pat dry.

3. Coat the beets with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper in an oven-safe baking dish or roasting pan.

4. Cover the dish or pan with aluminum foil.

5. Roast for at least 1 hour and 45 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork or knife.

6. In the meantime, squeeze the juices of the orange into a jar and add the olive oil, champagne vinegar, and mint. Shake the jar to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put the dressing in the refrigerator until needed.

7. Crush the hazelnuts with a mortar and pestle or a similarly effective method.

8. Let the beets cool until you can handle them. Cut the beets into cubes (cut the golden beets first to avoid discoloring from the red beets) and place in the refrigerator until cool, but not cold.

9. Arrange the arugula onto a plate, followed by the cubed beets. Crumble the cheese by hand and sprinkle over the salad, along with the crushed hazelnuts.

10. Shake the dressing jar again to emulsify and lightly drizzle over the salad.


  1. Nice! What's the emulsifier for that orange/champagne vinaigrette?

  2. Beautiful plating! Where do you get your sheep's milk feta? Any favorite brands?

  3. Bro! Thanks! The olive oil was I guess what would be the insoluble ingredient? Is that what you're asking?

    Fran! Thanks! I like the generic brand that Whole Foods carries in their pre-weighed plastic containers. Not sure what creamery makes it. Also, Pasture of Eden is what Sitka & Spruce uses and it's amazing!

    1. I know that oil and vinegar have to be shaken before serving, but I use mustard to keep the dressing emulsified since the mustard is an emulsifier. Just wondering if that sauce stays together or if it needs to be shaken before serving.

    2. Ohhhh I see what you mean. No, I just shake before serving. Leave it to you to know the science behind emulsifying haha. Maybe something I'll have to consider in the future.

    3. Maybe a touch of honey or egg yolk would do the trick to make the emulsion more stable (just read how stuff works) without sacrificing the flavor too much?


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