A beet salad with goat cheese has become ubiquitous on restaurant menus, a favorite throughout America. This version is a bit different, using the beet greens as well—most people think of only the beet bulb itself, but the greens are as delicious and nutritious as the root, and this is a great way to use them in a salad. It is best with small, firm beets with fresh, unblemished greens, a crisp, tart apple, and crumbly goat cheese. Roasting the beets to intensify the sweetness yields the best results.
10-12 small yellow and red beets, with greens attached
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium tart, crisp apple, such as Granny Smith
4 ounces or so slightly aged goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Slice the greens off, leaving a tiny bit of stem on top of the beets, then scrub the beets and poke each of them with a fork a few times. Put them all in a shallow baking dish, uncovered, with 1/8 inch water covering the bottom.
Roast the beets--the water will actually steam them a bit first--until they are shriveled, dark, and caramelized outside, and tender all the way through (when poked with a knife)--45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size. Let them cool completely.
Rinse the beet greens well, trimming off the tough parts of the stems, and cut the softer stem pieces from the leaves. Bring a big pan of water to a boil, then drop in the stems and cook for about 10 minutes; now add the greens. Cook for 20 minutes more, or until the stems are quite soft. Drain in a sieve; sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over the hot greens, and let them cool.
Peel the cooled beets, removing all the skin, the stem base, and the root tip, exposing the gleaming flesh. Cut in wedges, and place in a big mixing bowl. Cut the greens (both leaves and stems) into 2-inch lengths, and toss with the beet wedges.
Whisk together the oil and vinegar, with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and some grinds of pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the beets, and toss to combine. Core and slice the apple into thin matchsticks. Arrange the dressed beets on a serving platter or portion them on salad plates; fold in the apple pieces, then crumble goat cheese on top just before serving.