Beet & Plum Salad w/ Goat Cheese and Rose
This salad. Oh, this salad. It’s been my August. Such a simple combination, but it hits all my salad pulse points — tart fruit, roasty veg, crunchy nut, plus a sweetly unexpected ingredient: rose water. Give me a recipe with rose water, and I will always rush the fridge, batting all condiments aside to get at that tiny bottle with the pink label. Why? I almost never get to use rose water, and I have a strange affinity for it. Maybe I’m a little bit of a Persian grandma at heart, or part goat.
The bones of this salad come from a cookbook that was sent to my house, addressed to someone named “Ben.” Ben, whoever you are, I am enjoying your sample copy of Honey & Co.: The Cookbook more than you will ever know. It’s inspired me to use dairy in unexpected ways: like, topping melty-soft sauteed zucchini and garlic with yogurt and fresh mint. AND I am mezze-ing the hell out of kohlrabi. Yes, kohlrabi. The authors suggest topping fresh, sliced kohlrabi with Greek yogurt and chives. So simple, and yet so good — I want to tear my hair out for joy every time I eat a creamy, snappy bite on my patio.
But back to this salad.
Have you ever baked beets on salt?
Have you ever paired roasted beets with fresh plums?
Moreover, have you ever made a dressing with a whole tablespoon of rosewater?
If you’ve answered “no” to my little quiz and you — like me — are a salad-vore, then stand back. I mean, come here! My darling, this salad was made for us.
Note: I followed this recipe to the letter, then took a few liberties — I sloshed in some extra vinegar and doubled the honey. I added goat cheese, but you could also shave a little Pecorino over the top. Swoon. I share this recipe here with you pretty much as it was written. But, like many good recipes, it holds up well even with tweaking. For instance, you can substitute peaches for plums. You can also sub in feta for goat cheese. Just don’t skimp on the rose water.
Beets & plums in a rose water walnut dressing (with goat cheese)
Lightly adapted from Honey & Co.: The Cookbook, by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer (Little, Brown 2015). The pair were head chef and pastry chef at London’s Ottolenghi before they opened their own place, Honey & Co.
~for the salad
3 tablespoons salt (I used coarse kosher)
6 small beets, or 3 large
2 sprigs of fresh oregano
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 generous tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
greens: arugula or spinach or field mix
4 mint sprigs
fresh goat cheese, to crumble
~for the dressing
1/2 cup roasted walnuts
1 tablespoon rose water
1 generous tablespoon honey
1 generous tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
To salt-roast the beets: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cover a small baking sheet with foil, then sprinkle it with salt. Place the unpeeled beets on it, and roast the dickens out of them for 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on their size. The salt will absorb their moisture, resulting in soft, candy-sweet beets. This is a brilliant discovery!
Cool the beets, then peel off the skin with a butter knife. The skins should come off easily. Chop or slice the beets to your liking. Then place the beets in medium-sized bowl. Top them with oregano leaves, vinegar, and olive oil. Mix and let sit while you make the dressing, or you can refrigerate them and make the salad later.
To make the dressing: chop the walnuts and toss them in a small bowl. Add rose water (yes, you really do need a full tablespoon of it), honey, olive oil, and black pepper. Stir.
To assemble the salad: place arugula and mint leaves on a platter and scatter the beets across it. Cut the plums into wedges and scatter them, too. Spoon the walnut dressing over the top, and sprinkle with goat cheese. Fini.