Here is a salad that I think is just fabulous. I had not thought of it recently, until our listener, Leni mentioned to me that it is a great way to serve beets, and that it has become a favorite of hers since I told her about it ages ago. Leni remembers that I said to make it with feta cheese (which is how she has been doing it) but I think goat cheese is even better - although messier to use. Use either, as you prefer.

I searched everywhere for my recipe until I finally concluded that I made it up. So here is a “recreation” of my concept - with approximate measurements. Certainly make it to your liking, and substitute red wine vinegar if you don’t find the fig balsamic. [I will say, however, that I have no trouble finding fig balsamic at Bristol Farms, Sur La Table and online, among other places - and it is really a delicious addition to this salad. The bottle has a “wax” dripping down from the top of the bottle neck, and is a product from Restaurant Lulu in San Francisco.]


1/2 cup, hazelnuts, very coarsely chopped
6 medium-size beets
3 ounces, fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Optional: 1/2 pound, baby spinach leaves - washed and dried

for the dressing:
1/2 cup, extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (or to taste), fig balsamic vinegar (see introductory note)
salt and pepper to taste
Toast the hazelnuts: Spread thr coarsely chopped hazelnits in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and toast them in a 250 degree oven until they are fragrant - about 15-20 minutes. Stir the nuts once or twice during toasting, so that they cook evenly. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool.

Roast the beets: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the beets, and trim each beet to leave two or three inches of the stem or stalk attached. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil, place the wrapped beets in a cookie sheet, and bake them in the preheated oven until they are tender (check with a fork) - about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the beets.

Allow the beets to cool for about 20 minutes, then peel them under cold running water (you might want to wear rubber gloves for this, so your hands do not become stained from the beet juices). The skins will rub off easily. Cut the beets into wedges.

Make the dressing: Combine the vinegar and oil; add the salt and pepper and taste to adjust seasoning.

Compose the salad: If desired, make a bed of the spinach leaves. Arrange the beet wedges in the serving dish (on top of the spinach leaves, if using). Sprinkle over the toasted hazelnuts, then the crumbled goat cheese, and drizzle over the dressing in the amount you like.