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5 from 1 vote

Warm Spinach Salad with Beets, Goats Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

It’s winter. It’s frigid outside and beetroots are such a tasty and oft neglected vegetable.
There are some vegetables that I believe were simply ruined by childhood. Asparagus is a common one. Brussels sprouts is another. Spinach?! Don’t even get me started on spinach…
There are many reasons why children avoid these tantalizing vegetables. A lot of it is scientific and related to foods with a high caloric density (they need energy to grow!). Foods higher in fiber can almost take as much effort for a kid to digest as they get energy from it. The young body is all like, “Whatevz. Blech. Give me some fat and carbs!”
There are also bitter compounds in a lot of these veggies, which turn children off. Those are protective compounds designed to turn rascals, vermin and rug-rats away. It tastes bad; therefore, it must be dangerous! Adults know better, but kids have sharper palates, and the bitterness can be overwhelming to their budding taste receptors. Grown-ups have adapted and built a tolerance to those flavors, enjoying the textures, nutrients, and nuances, instead.
There’s also something called “Paired Associative Learning”, which is what I believe is the biggest culprit in adults avoiding many vegetables, maintaining that pickiness deep into later years. The general idea is people associate certain stimulus with past responses and memories. Ice cream and cake brings memories of feel good celebrations, whereas broccoli and cauliflower bring back feelings of meanie parents and being sent to their room for not eating their greens.
Sweet treats? Good vibes.
Vegetables? Punishment!
Beets fall square into this category, as well. While they don’t have the same bitterness as a lot of the green and cruciferous vegetables, they have a weird texture. They also can have a somewhat earthy taste (some compare them to the taste of a “basement floor”). They’re also often boiled, pickled or canned, which really doesn’t help a delicate new palate love this fantastic root.
I get it. I understand why people scoff and sneer at a lot of these ingredients. I personally blame Aunt Rose. However, cooked properly, maintaining a lot of the vibrancy and textures, coupled with some time, experimentation, and the awareness that this stuff is just good for you …
Eat it. It’s good for you. Eat it!
… Go to your room without your ice cream!
Oh! The recipe? Yeah, this one is awesome! It’s actually several classic flavors, especially the orange, goats’ cheese and beets. I had a bit more fun with this one, in that I used golden beets, in addition to the red. I also largely consider this one almost a side dish. It’s so hearty, that a big pork chop slapped on top would be perfect!
Thank you for listening. Now, go back to your room! 😉
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Author: DJ Foodie


  • 2 medium golden beets
  • 1 medium red beet
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 whole orange
  • ½ cup walnut halves
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 lb fresh spinach leaves washed and stems removed
  • 4 oz. goats' cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat an oven to 450°F (232°C).
  • Cut the top off and a wee bit of the tail end, if it’s really long and scraggly. Wash the beets under running water, making sure to get rid of any dirt. Place the beets in a small casserole pan.
  • Coat the beets with about 2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil. Rub it in. Then, HEAVILY season the beets with salt and just a bit of pepper. Later, we’re going to peel the beets, so most of the surface will be removed. The salt will permeate into the beets, enhancing their flavor within. Place the seasoned and oiled beets back in the pan.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Poke a few small holes in the top of the foil, to allow the steam to escape. Place the beets in the oven to roast, for about 45 minutes.
  • While the beets roast, wash the orange, dry it, then zest the outside peel, to get about 2 tsp (10mL) of orange zest. Chop this and set aside.
  • Juice the orange, removing the seeds, and set the juice aside. Discard what remains of the orange.
  • Coarsely chop the walnuts, then set aside.
  • At about the 45-minute mark, remove the beets from the oven. Carefully peel back a corner of the foil, being careful not to burn yourself on the escaping steam. Stick a small sharp knife into the center of the largest beet. If it goes in smooth and easy, the beets are done. If it’s still a bit of a challenge, cover them and place them back in the oven for about 15 more minutes, then try again. Larger beets will take longer. Just keep testing every 10 to 15 minutes, until the knife goes in easy. Once the beets are cooked through, remove them, remove the foil cover and let them rest for about 10 minutes.
  • Turn the oven down to 325°F (162°C).
  • Spread the walnut pieces on a small baking tray, making sure that they’re spread evenly and one layer. Place in the oven and bake for about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven when they’re lightly aromatic. Set aside.
  • By now, the beets should be cool enough to handle. They’ll still be hot, so be careful, but you should be able to move them around. I personally peel them by rubbing a clean old towel on them. This easily rubs the peel off. You could also use rubber gloves and rub the skin under warm water. This is also a good approach, but things get wet. In all cases, be careful not to touch anything you care about. The red beets will dye anything they touch. Wear a purple apron.
  • Once the beets are peeled, place them in a large mixing bowl. Pour the orange juice on them, as well as the orange zest and chopped thyme. Place the spinach on top. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Toss the salad together and let sit for about 1 minute, to allow the spinach to wilt a bit with the warm beets. Toss one more time, then serve.
  • Garnish with fresh crumbled goats' cheese!