An easy beet salad with arugula, pecans, gorgonzola and a delicious balsamic dressing. Perfect as a side or topped with protein for a meal sized salad.
Beet salad? Don’t mind if I do. When brainstorming recipes, I began with the idea of making a simple, yet flavorful salad that could work as a starter for dinner or on its own for a light meal. I ended up going with arugula as the base and adding gorgonzola cheese, toasted pecans and a balsamic vinegar salad dressing. Easy, fresh, filling and absolutely delicious.
Health Benefits of Beets
Beets are amazing — not only are they rich in potassium, which is one of the main minerals responsible for muscle contraction (including the contraction of the heart), but a diet rich in beets and other potassium-rich foods can help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
They’ve also been shown to increase exercise performance. The natural nitrates in beets increase nitric oxide, a molecule that lowers blood pressure and widens blood vessels. This widening of the blood vessels increases blood flow and reduces the oxygen needed by muscles, allowing them to work more efficiently and perform the same amount of work with less oxygen. Many runners and cyclists often consume beet juice before races to improve their stamina!
Pretty incredible, huh?
Boiled Beets for Salad
For this salad, I decided to use boiled beets because if I’m being honest, sometimes roasted beets are kind of a pain (and a mess) to make.
Plus, boiling beets is super easy. Place washed and trimmed beets in a large saucepan, add water to cover, as well as, a little lemon juice or vinegar. The lemon juice or vinegar help to prevent the beets from bleeding. Bring beets to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your beets. Drain and place pot under cold running water. Keeping rinsing until beets are cool enough to be handled. At this point the skin will slip right now off. Peel skin off the beets, quarter and set aside.
How to Make an Easy Beet Salad
This beet salad doesn’t get much easier. Once your beets are cooked, you’ll toast your pecans on the stovetop, stirring frequently and prep your salad dressing. Mixing all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender. Slowly add in the olive oil to mix. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Prep=done!
To make the salad, add your arugula, cooked beets, pecans and gorgonzolato a large serving dish or salad bowl. Top with the balsamic dressing and enjoy!
Swaps for this Salad
I love the peppery taste of the arugula in this salad, but you can certainly use another green. Baby spinach or baby kale would work great.
If you want to save time, you can buy pre-cooked beets and use a healthy store-bought dressing. For the pre-cooked beets, look for those in the produce section — not canned beets! The pre-cooked beets in the produce section are cooked in their own juices and vacuum-packed for freshness so they’re super flavorful and so easy to use.
For the cheese, I love using gorgonzola, but crumbled feta cheese also works great.
Toasted pecans are lovely on this salad, but if you want a treat and have time to make them, these candied pecans would be delicious on the salad as well. You can also use toasted walnuts.
Top this salad with protein for a full meal. My apple cider vinegar chicken would be delicious on this, but you could also add cooked quinoa or lentils for a vegetarian option.
Place the beets in a large saucepan, add water to cover, as well as, the lemon juice or vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The cook time will vary based on how large the beets are. Drain and place pot under cold running water. Keeping rinsing until beets are cool enough to be handled. Peel skin off the beets, quarter and set aside.
While beets are cooking, make dressing and toast pecans. To make dressing, place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Toast pecans by placing them in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and spread on plate to cool.
To serve the salad, place arugula on a platter or in a large salad bowl. Top with beets, pecans, gorgonzola cheese. Serve with balsamic dressing on the side. You can toss the salad, but I find that all the toppings sink to the bottom and the liquid from the beets make the salad look kind of messy.
To make the prep of this salad even faster, you can use pre-cooked beets and/or store-bought dressing. These beets are found in the produce section of most grocery stores.