Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

A delicious fresh salad is always easy to prepare on board.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese SaladLynda Morris Childress

We recently sailed south from Juneau, Alaska, to Mexico aboard our Cal 34, Sound Discovery. One of the joys of cruising the Sea of Cortez has been watching my boat refrigerator transform into a Mexican icebox, where bread is replaced by tortillas, and avocado, cilantro and lime wedges rule.

“Eating local” becomes second nature when cruising; our diets conform to the groceries available. Imagine my excitement when we pulled into Caleta San Juanico last spring and heard of a ranch up the road that sold produce from a new garden.

José, the garden’s owner, welcomes cruisers, who walk to his ranch to buy anything that looks fresh and springs from the ground. After one visit, my arms were full of more fresh vegetables than I’d seen in weeks. José also owns a small herd of goats and chickens that provide fresh goat milk and eggs daily.

For years I’d wanted to learn how to make fresh cheese, so I asked José if he’d teach me the process. He was flattered and eager to do so. For several mornings I woke early and milked 12 goats for two gallons of goat milk. On cheese-making day, I drank coffee with José while the cheese began to curdle. Clif came along and kept conversation flowing with his fluent Spanish. That afternoon, we rowed back to our boat with a newly pressed round of fresh goat cheese.

Before we left, I made this salad as a parting gift for José, using mostly ­ingredients from his ranch. Building relationships with the growers, passing on knowledge and skills, sharing the wealth and meeting wonderful people like José are just some of the reasons I love to “eat local”!

Ingredients:

  • 3 large beets, roasted and peeled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, to drizzle
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1⁄4 cup slivered almonds
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • 1⁄3 cup goat cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Romaine lettuce or kale
  • Fresh beet greens
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime

Preparation:

Roast and peel beets (see instructions below). Wash and reserve greens. If using whole roasted beets, chop into bite-size pieces. Add salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary. Set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place slivered almonds on a baking sheet, coat lightly with oil, sprinkle with cayenne pepper and cinnamon, and toast in oven for five to eight minutes, until a nutty aroma is present and almonds begin to lightly toast. When cool, combine with chopped beets, cheese and green onions. Finely chop some romaine lettuce and beet greens. Combine olive oil, apple cider or balsamic vinegar, and ground black pepper, then drizzle over leaves and toss. Spread greens on a serving plate. Top with beet mixture. Squeeze lime juice over beets. Garnish with lime wedges or sprigs of rosemary. Serves two.

Fresh Beets
Fresh BeetsLynda Morris Childress

How to Roast Fresh Beets:

There are two ways to roast and peel fresh beets. Warning: Beet juice stains hands, clothing and countertops, so proceed carefully!

  1. Roasted Whole — Roasted whole beets are easy to peel and chop, but cooking time is longer. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove greens at the stem end and set aside. Scrub beets thoroughly. Wrap each beet loosely in aluminum foil. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes or less, depending on size of beet. (Test for doneness every 20 minutes.) Beets are roasted when easily pierced through the foil with a fork (like a baked potato). Slide off peels by hand when cool enough to touch.

  2. Roasted Chopped — Fresh raw beets are sometimes difficult to peel and chop, but cooking time is faster. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove greens. Set aside. Wash beets. Peel with a potato-peeler and chop into ½-inch pieces. Place in a small baking dish and add salt, pepper and a few rosemary leaves. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the beets are tender.

- Lynda Morris Childress