Beets are way underrated – if you have never cooked with this delicious and versatile superfood, today is the day to start.
Beneath that tough exterior and that gorgeous deep purple hue, beetroots are a very nutritious root vegetable. They are rich sources of potassium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It doesn’t get the credit it deserves!
The latest addition to my salad recipes is this stunning beet salad with feta, arugula, and candied pecans. I would describe it as fresh, nutty, sweet, and salty. There’s also a balsamic vinaigrette that brings out all the best flavors of this recipe.
This beautiful beet salad comes together in four simple steps. It can be cooked in advance, which is perfect for the holiday season. This leaves you with time for gift-wrapping, home decorations, and preparing loads of other seasonal menu items. Just pull this colorful salad out from the fridge and voila – a fun, healthy side dish!
Read on to learn how to assemble the most delicious arugula beet feta salad and my expert tips on cooking beetroot. Enjoy!
This recipe serves 6. If you are making this arugula beet salad for 1 to 2 servings, just reduce the portions of the ingredients. The salad also keeps well in the fridge, so you can make the salad ahead of time.
This beet salad recipe uses easy-to-find ingredients, such as:
- Red beets – The nutrient-packed protagonist of this recipe. We use red beets which should be easily found in your nearest supermarket, but you can go ahead and buy golden beets if not. Chop them up into bite-sized pieces.
- Baby arugula – Arugula complements the beet salad very well thanks to their peppery, nutty scent.
- Feta cheese – These days, I feel like adding a bit of savory feta cheese makes any dish taste better instantly, and this salad is no exception.
- Pecans, olive oil, and brown sugar – Pecans will give this salad a much-needed crunch. What’s better is sweet candied pecans toasted in olive oil and brown sugar.
Here is what you’ll need to make your own balsamic vinaigrette:
- Extra virgin olive oil – Helps to mellow down the sharpness of the vinegar. I use Colavita’s extra virgin olive oil, but any brand you have at home will work just great.
- Balsamic vinegar – Balsamic vinegar is a thick and dark reduction of unfermented grape juice, which explains its concentrated vinegary taste. It’s also slightly sweet. Best mixed with olive oil for salad dressings.
- Dijon mustard – A bit of Dijon mustard makes a whole lot of difference in balsamic vinaigrette. It adds a touch of spice and its emulsification property makes this dressing slightly creamy. I’ve been obsessed with Grey Poupon’s Dijon mustard made with white wine.
- Garlic – Mince one garlic clove. I recommend using a large clove or two small ones.
- Salt and black pepper – As always, salt and pepper go into taste. The feta cheese lends a briny taste already, so you want to make sure that your salad isn’t too salty.
How to Make the Dressing
These ingredients in this salad are brought together by a light balsamic vinaigrette. I’ve always had it in restaurants, but I never knew it would be so easy to make at home. This is one of my most-used salad dressings so I always have extras in the fridge. They last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
So, how do you make homemade balsamic vinaigrette? In a medium bowl, combine ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard.
Add one minced garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper (just a pinch). Whisk to combine the ingredients well. You should get a reddish-brown dressing with a thin layer of olive oil on the surface.
Drizzle over your beet salad to taste. If you are not serving the salad right away, stir the dressing again just before drizzling it over the salad.
Assembling the Salad
To make the salad, we will need to cook beets until they are soft, make the candied pecans, and toss all the salad ingredients together. Since the beets take 1 hour to bake, there’s time to multitask. I use this time to prepare the salad dressing and toast the pecans.
Step One: Roast the beets until soft.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line the bottom of a medium-size rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Wrap each beat tightly in foil and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until the largest beet is easily pierced.
Step Two: While the beets cook in the oven, prepare the balsamic vinaigrette (see How to Make The Dressing) and make the candied pecans.
In a medium skillet, add olive oil and brown sugar. Stir over medium heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Add in the pecans and toss until it is coated in the sugar glaze, shiny, golden, and fragrant. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Pro Tip: Once the pecans have cooled and the sugar glaze has hardened, your candied pecans are ready. If they’re clumped together, simply use your hands to break them up.
Step Three: Unwrap the beets and cool them to room temperature. Then, peel the skins off (See Expert Tips & Tricks section). Cut into small bite-sized pieces.
- Pro Tip: Slice off the root ends to discard all parts of the beet that touched the tin foil.
Step Four: Assemble the salad. Add baby arugula to a large mixing bowl, followed by chopped beets, crumbled feta cheese, and toasted pecans. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and serve immediately.
Expert Tips & Tricks
- Save time cooking beetroot – Since the beets take 1 hour in the oven, you can save time by making them way earlier. Pre-cook the beets following the Step One directions. You can make it 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate them until ready to use. This way, all you need to do on the day itself is prepare the balsamic vinaigrette, and candied pecans, and assemble the salad.
- Make-ahead tips for this salad – To make this salad 24 hours in advance, toss together arugula, beet, and feta cheese. Refrigerate the salad. Keep the candied pecans and salad dressing separately. Before serving, add the candied pecans and drizzle the salad dressing.
- How to keep beets from staining your hands – The deep red juices of beetroot can easily stain your hands. Use disposable gloves to keep your hands clean while peeling off the skins of the beets. Rub the beet and the skins will come right off.
Beet Salad With Feta And Candied Pecans
Beet Salad with Arugula
- 4 medium beets chopped into bite size pieces
- 5 oz baby arugula 1 box, rinsed and spun dry
- 1 ¼ cup feta cheese finely chopped
- 1 cup pecans
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove minced
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper
How to Make Beet Salad with Arugula
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line the bottom of a medium rimmed baking sheet with foil. Wrap each beat tightly in foil and arrange on a lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour or until the largest beet is easily pierced. Unwrap beets and cool to room temperature then peel the skins (see Pro Tip Below*) and slice into small bite size pieces.
- Toast pecans in olive oil and brown sugar, tossing frequently until golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add arugula to a large mixing bowl then add remaining salad ingredients: chopped beets, feta cheese, and toasted pecans.
How To Make Balsamic Vinaigrette
- In a medium bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk well to combine. Drizzle over salad to taste. If not serving salad right away, whisk the dressing again just before drizzling over salad.