Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Loaded with nutrients and flavor, this lovely salad is perfect for a Spring lunch eaten al fresco and pairs nicely with a piece of grilled steak. The orange vinaigrette also makes a great marinade for chicken breasts before they hit the grill or brushed on top of grilled veggies. This recipe makes two salads.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hours 0 minutes

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup juice from a fresh orange plus 2 teaspoons of the zest
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Remaining ingredients:
4 medium-sized beets, scrubbed clean and ends removed
6 ounces baby greens, washed and dried
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (Feta also works well in this recipe)
1/2 cup candied walnuts (see cook's note)
1/2 small white, sweet or red onion, slivered
2 mandarins or other small oranges, peeled and sectioned
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Make the dressing: Add all dressing ingredients to a glass jar with a lid. Close and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside until ready to use.

Place each beet on a square of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap up the beets tightly with the foil. Bake in the oven for 30-60 minutes, until the beets become fork-tender. The cooking time will depend on the size of the beets and how fresh they are. Once beets are cooked, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once the beets are cool enough to handle, remove from foil and pull the peels off with your (clean) hands. Cut the beets into 6-8 sections.

To assemble the salads, arrange greens on two serving plates. Add beets, cheese, walnuts, onions and oranges, distributing evenly amongst the plates. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Cook's note: Many grocery stores carry pre-made candied walnuts if you choose to use and they are available to you. If not, you can make your own by heating 1 cup walnuts (unroasted), 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet to medium heat on the stove top. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often so the sugar doesn't burn. Transfer the nuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread onto one layer with a rubber spatula. Let the nuts cool, break into pieces and they're ready to serve!