I’ve never been much of a pecan fan. Growing up, I didn’t like any nuts at all, but I’ve learned to enjoy almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts. Peanuts are still on my yucky list and pecans are somewhere in-between. Or at least they were until I met Alfred De La Houssaye of Sweetwater Pecan Orchard at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market.
Alfred is, uh, enthusiastic about pecans. If you wander by his booth at the market, he’ll use his special pecan cracker and give you a sample. At first I tried to resist, but the CompostMaster’s oohing and aahing made me relent. This pecan was actually good!
We toasted the pecans and tossed them into a salad featuring greens, beets, and goat cheese that we also picked up at the farmers’ market. We added a dressing made from blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and grainy mustard. The smoky, sweet and sour flavors plus the creaminess of the goat cheese made for one great salad.
No Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar?
If you’re having trouble finding the combination blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar (affiliate link), other flavors go equally well with beets. Any citrus flavor would work – think blood orange – or just use traditional balsamic.
Blackberry Ginger Beet Salad with Pecans
- 1 pound fresh beets washed and trimmed
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling on beets before roasting
- 1 cup whole pecans
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar or any other fruity balsamic
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 6 cups mixed salad greens
- Coarse kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place beets on a large piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and tightly wrap. Place packet onto a small baking pan and roast for 1 hour or until beets are tender when poked with a fork. Let cool.
In the meantime, heat a dry nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add pecans and toss or stir frequently until they are toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and the mustard. Slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened.
In another medium bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Peel beets, cut them into thick slices and then cut the slices in half. Add to the vinegar/olive oil mixture.
Toss salad greens with some of the dressing (you’ll have some leftover) and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the greens on 4 individual serving plates. Add beets, goat cheese and toasted pecans.
The nutritional information, especially the fat count, is a little bit misleading because you won’t use all of the dressing. Save it for another use.