This Lemony Beet Salad is restaurant quality with our lemon vinaigrette, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy walnuts.
While many eateries have a beet salad on their menu these days, it’s easy to make a restaurant-quality version at home with simple, fresh ingredients. In this recipe, a shaken lemon vinaigrette brings out the natural sweetness of roasted beets. Balanced with creamy goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and fresh baby greens, this salad is a showstopper.
Roast Your Beets
For the best beet flavor in this salad, you’re going to want to use roasted beets. You can use canned beets or pre-packaged roasted beets in a pinch, but I highly recommend roasting them yourself if you have the time. They’ll likely taste sweeter than most canned beets, and roasting is incredibly easy. Learn how to roast beets with our easy tutorial.
Lemon Vinaigrette Marinade for a Flavor Win
When I first made this salad, I debated whether to quickly marinate the roasted beets in some lemon vinaigrette. Not for a long time, but just for about 15 minutes while I prepared the rest of the salad. Would marinating really make much of a flavor difference? The answer, after a little experimentation, was a resounding yes.
I divided my supply of roasted beets, allowing half of them to soak in the lemon vinaigrette while the other half remained undressed until I assembled the salad. While the undressed beets were still delicious, the marinated ones became noticeably sweeter, thanks to the lemon juice. That flavor boost was definitely worth the minimal amount of effort it took to apply the marinade. Do it!
Do I Have to Use Goat Cheese?
I happen to love how the creamy tanginess of goat cheese pairs with the beets and all the other ingredients in this salad. It’s a classic combination. But if you’re not a fan of goat cheese, you might try another crumbly cheese, like a mild feta. It will have a saltier flavor profile than with goat cheese, but it still works.
This salad is best served as soon as it’s assembled. Though if you want to prepare in advance, you can make almost all of the components ahead of time:
- Roast the beets up to 3 days ahead. Refrigerate them in an airtight container.
- Assemble the lemon vinaigrette up to 1 week ahead. Refrigerate it and re-shake before using.
- Toast the walnuts up to 2 weeks ahead. Keep them at room temperature in an airtight container.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add beets. Microwave 1 minute.
- Remove bowl from microwave, add 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, toss together mixed greens and remaining 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette.
- Drain beets, arrange over greens.
- Top with crumbled goat cheese and walnuts.
*For extra crunch and flavor, toast walnuts before adding to salad. Preheat a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add walnuts, toss frequently until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer walnuts to a plate or paper towel and let stand 5 minutes before adding to salad.
Photos by Dawn Viola.