I have been thinking about this salad for months now, since I tried a version of it in late January at Muse in Calgary. With the warmer weather here (hopefully to stay!), I am finally starting to crave salads rather than hearty winter fare. This salad kind of bridges the gap between the two; the beets give it a warm earthiness and the slight bitterness in the arugula somehow manages to keep it feeling light.
Poached Beet Salad with Chèvre:
5 small beets, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 large handfuls rocket
2 slices cooked bacon, cut into fifths (optional)
balsamic vinegar to dress
The only thing that takes any time at all is poaching the beets - this will take at least 40 minutes, but it's fine to do that a day ahead. Peel and quarter the beets (I wear plastic gloves to do this, else my hands would be pink for the next few days) and put them in a pan with the red wine and balsamic vinegar. Bring everything to a low simmer and keep an eye on it for the next 40 minutes. I was not paying attention, and about 3/4 of the way through the poaching I went in to check on them and the cooking liquid had thickened and burned - smelling awful and covering the beets in a thick black coating. Luckily, rinsing them off took away all the bad taste and I was able to clean out the pan, replace the cooking liquid, and keep going. While this is finishing up, cook the bacon strips if you are using them (I didn't this time) and then cut into 3cm pieces.
Let the beets cool, then plate and top with the arugula and bacon and dress with balsamic vinegar. (My photos were taken prior to adding the dressing.) I rolled my goat cheese in fresh ground pepper, but it definitely could just be crumbled into the salad. I really liked the cute little spheres though, and it only took a minute to make it look a lot prettier.
Later, with my leftovers, I tried making appetizers on top of pieces of croissant... AMAZING! There is no doubt that these will be making an appearance the next time I entertain.