Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's All About the Vinegar

After a great day at Matt's parents' house, the evening turned into crazytown over here. Riker wound himself up into a tizzy and Matt and I have been taking turns all night trying to comfort a very cranky baby. Thankfully his crankiness doesn't usually last long and he's tucked away into bed now, so I'm going to go rest my ears and unwind with a glass of wine in our new whirlpool bathtub. Free Smileys

But first I have to tell you about this salad! I've been on a bit of a salad kick this week. While Sunday's salad had summertime written all over it, though, this one had all the flavors of fall and winter. A perfect dinner for a frigid but sunny day in Jersey.

It was filled with peppery arugula and radishes, warm roasted beets, fig goat cheese and toasted pecans. Such a great flavor combination. You could add some grilled chicken as well for extra protein. I was too lazy tonight, so just served it up with some extra carbs instead. Toasted whole grain Portuguese rolls? Yes, please!

I like to roast my own beets if I have the time since they have a nice earthy flavor, but you could easily substitute canned beets instead. You can also use any kind of goat cheese you like. I spotted this fig goat cheese at the store the other day and thought it would pair fantastically with the beets (it did), but you could use cranberry, garlic, herb or even plain.

Roasted Beets

But the vinegar is the best part of this salad. A few years ago my sister introduced me to this Ariston 12-year aged balsamic vinegar, and I've never looked back. My friend Heather and I are so addicted, we're now buying it in gallons. Yes it sounds crazy, but seriously, this vinegar. It's syrupy and sweet with a huge depth of flavor, and it's so thick that it sticks to salad greens without any olive oil. It also works great as a drizzle on fresh mozzarella or portobello mushroom sandwiches, or as a marinade for chicken or pork. If you can't find a good balsamic vinegar like this one, you can of course use any kind of balsamic dressing you like. But put "vinegar shopping" on your list of things to do at some point, you won't be disappointed. Free Emoticons

Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese

Serves 2

4 cups arugula
5 medium radishes, sliced thin
4 medium beets
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. pecans, chopped and toasted in a dry pan
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Balsamic dressing

To roast the beets, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and place the beets in a baking pan with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until they pierce easily with a knife. Remove and allow to cool. Then peel the skins, cut into large chunks, and add salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar; toss to combine.

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, radishes, roasted beets and 3/4 of the goat cheese. Add balsamic dressing and toss until fully coated and goat cheese begins to turn creamy. Divide the salad between two plates and top with the pecans and remaining goat cheese.

Nutrition Facts** (One Serving): 336 calories; 17 grams fat; 32 grams carbs; 4.5 grams protein; 14.5 grams fiber

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