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Cristina Ferrare’s Brain-Healthy Roasted Beet Salad


Cristina Ferrare’s Brain-Healthy Roasted Beet Salad


When I found these today at the open market I knew immediately that I wanted to make a delicious salad. When I came across wild organic baby arugula I knew the combination would be perfect!

I can’t eat beets that have been boiled, to me they taste like dirt, I prefer to roast them instead. Roasting brings out the natural sugar from the beets as they caramelize in the oven making them sweet. I made this beautiful salad using the wild arugula, the acid from the dressing and the Balsamic syrup cuts the sweetness of the beets for a perfect balance. The wild arugula has a fresh, clean, crisp, peppery flavor. The goat cheese adds to all of the wonderful flavors with it’s creamy texture and slightly salty taste. The toasted pignoli nuts gives it that earthy aroma a long with a crunchiness that is the perfect finishing touch! Lots going on here but they all blend so beautifully.


1/2 cup pignoli nuts

7 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 pounds beets

6 cups baby or wild arugula, washed and dried

4 tablespoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons Shallot Vinaigrette, (You will find the recipe for Shallot Vinaigrette here.)

6 ounces goat cheese, rolled into 30 balls the size of small grapes

6 teaspoons reduced balsamic vinegar*

Place the pignoli nuts in a small dry frying pan and turn the stove to medium-high heat. Shake the pan back and forth until the nuts have stated to  turn golden, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the palm of your hand and rub the beets all over to coat. Place the beets on a baking dish whole, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until tender. To check for doneness, insert a sharp paring knife through the middle of the thickest part of the beet. If the knife goes through all the way smoothly, the beets are done. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Peel the beets under running water and cut them into thin slices.

Arrange 4 to 6  slices of beets on a salad plate in a circle. Toss the arugula with kosher salt and 3 to 4 tablespoons of dressing. Place 1 cup of arugula on top of the beets. Spread 4 to 5 goat-cheese balls around the salad, and top with 2 teaspoons of pignoli nuts. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of balsamic syrup and 1 teaspoon of olive oil over each serving.

Repeat the assembly procedure for the other 5 servings!

Many markets carry Balsamic Glaze, (balsamic vinegars that have been reduced and thickened)  You can also make your own. Recipe below.

*1 (16.9 fluid-ounce) bottle balsamic vinegar

Makes 1/2 cup

Pour the whole bottle of vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-high and continue to boil until the vinegar starts to thicken and forms a syrup like consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to thicken too much or you will end up with a thick black goop. To test, use a wooden spoon: if the syrup coats the back of the spoon, it is ready to remove from the heat. Let it cool to room temperature before you store in the in the refrigerator. I use a needle-nose plastic bottle to store my glaze after it has cooled. It will last up to 2 months in the refrigerator. It’s very concentrated so a tiny bit goes a long way!


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