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!