(arugula is “rucola” in Italian, and is often listed as “rocket” on menus)
This is my all-time favorite salad! I flipped for arugula in Tuscany and it’s still my favorite green. Roasted beets—served in Italy with a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper—melt on your tongue. I had never tasted goat cheese before our summer abroad and from the very first bite, I loved it—in both Italy and Paris. I initially created this recipe using lemon-tarragon vinaigrette, but once Stillman introduced me to truffle vinaigrette, I was hooked!
1 pound beets, stems trimmed to 1 inch
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
5 – 6 oz. baby arugula
1 quantity truffle vinaigrette
or 1/2 quantity of lemon-tarragon vinaigrette
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Place beets in a baking dish large enough to hold them, such as an 8-inch square or a 9-by-11-inch pan. Add 1/2 cup water and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the beets pierce easily with a fork. Roasting times approximate: 45 minutes for baby beets, 1 hour for medium-sized beets, and 1 1/4 hours for large beets.
While the beets roast, pull the crumbled goat cheese from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
While still warm from the oven, remove the skin and top from the beets using a paring knife. (I hold the beets still with a fork for slipping the skins off so my hands do not turn red from the beets.) Slice the beets into 1/4-inch rounds. For the larger beets, cut the slices into halves or quarters so that your beet pieces are not larger than the size of a 1 1/2-inch-diameter circle. Set aside and let cool.
Make ahead: The beets can be roasted 2 days in advance, stored in a covered container, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.
Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette and place the dressed greens onto eight individual plates. Nestle the beet slices among the arugula greens. Sprinkle the salads with the crumbled goat cheese. Top with freshly ground pepper, if desired.
This salad is a spectacular presentation when plated onto narrow rectangular individual plates or a rectangular platter!