Roasted Beet & Watercress Salad w/ Toasted Walnuts

Stephanie Webster

People are often daunted by the prospect of proper beet handling and cooking. Personally speaking, I always order them when dining out because I lack the will to cook them at home. Recently, I sat in on one of Chef Nicole's cooking classes, where Balsamic Glazed Roasted Beets with Toasted Walnuts & Grapefruit Over Watercress was on the menu. Watching the simple preparation of this delicious dish helped me turn the corner.

Beets can be found year round at your local grocer although the small tender beets are generally in season only from June through October. High in nutrients and low in calories, these sweet earthy root vegetables are great solo or in salads like the one below. The acidity of the balsamic vinegar and the grapefruit work well to counterbalance the sugary beets, while the toasted walnuts provide great texture and crunch. Make this dish for your next dinner party or as a light healthy lunch.

Balsamic Glazed Roasted Beets with Toasted Walnuts and Grapefruit Segments Over Watercress

4-5 beets, scrubbed and trimmed, leaving about 1 inch of stems attached

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 C. grapefruit segments (can be purchased already segmented)

1 C. toasted walnuts

3 bunches of watercress

Preheat oven to 450.  Wash beets, and cover tightly in foil packet.  Bake on a cookie sheet for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.  Beets are cooked when a knife can be smoothly inserted and removed into foil packets.  Cool beets until they can be handled and slip off skins and stems. Cut beets into small cubes.  Beets may be prepared up to this point 2 days ahead kept refrigerated. Toast walnuts in a dry skillet on medium high for 5-6 minutes, shaking the pan to prevent burning.  These can be prepared 2-3 days in advance, and kept in a Ziplock bag.

In a large skillet stir together vinegar, honey, oil and beets. Cook beet mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring, until heated through and coated well, about 6 minutes.  Before serving over watercress, mix beets, walnuts and grapefruit segments together.  Make a little nest of watercress, and place about ½ C. of the beet mixture atop salad.

This dish can be served at room temperature.