Watercress Salad with Roasted Yellow Beets, Goat Cheese and Meyer Lemon & Honey Dressing
By Heidi Allison
This is a simple yet sophisticated salad with a play on sweet, salty and peppery flavors.
Watercress, the foundation of this dish, has a peppery taste that is highlighted by the sweet flavors—roasted beets, grape tomatoes and honey. While this recipe is featured as a light, vegetarian side, it can be ramped up to a main dish by adding a smoked protein, such as ham, turkey, or even corned beef!
The secret to this dish is its balance of flavors. In this salad, the spicy watercress and sweet, caramelized golden beets are flavor complements, showing off each others flavors. In the dance of culinary notes, spicy and sweet ingredients combine exquisitely when carefully balanced. The caveat is: Do not overpower one taste with the other.
While this is a quick and simple dish, taking the time to do an emulsion-style dressing is key to its success. Don't be tempted to cut corners and try to make this dressing in a food processor, or blender—it’s far too easy to “break” the dressing, and you won’t get that requisite creamy texture this dish requires. A trick for getting the same results as the labor-intensive French technique, which uses a large bowl and lots of “elbow grease” is using an 8-ounce short glass and medium-sized wire whisk to create an emulsion. Simply place the acid and sweetener in the bottom of the glass, add a small amount of oil, then begin rubbing the handle of the whisk between your palms in a back and forth motion, repeating this process until all of the oil is used and an emulsion forms. You have more control using this technique, your forearms won’t hurt, and it goes very quickly!
1 bunch Organic Watercress, washed, dried and stems cut off to 1-inch from leaves
2 medium Organic Yellow Beets
8 Organic Grape Tomatoes
, halved (optional)
3 oz. mild, Creamy Goat Cheese Crumbles, room temperature
Kosher Flake Salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375º. Cut the stems and leaves off the beets leaving about ½ inch of stems on. Place beets on a piece of foil and drizzle a small amount of oil and salt over the beets , then crimp corners to enclose the beets. Cook for about 45 minutes, then open foil packet and allow beets to cool to room temperature. Remove beet peels by rubbing skin off with your fingers and cut in half. Using a medium julienne blade, do a matchstick cut with beets on a mandolin or Japanese benriner, and set aside.
Place beets, watercress and tomatoes in a large bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of dressing over veggies and toss to coat. Place salad on chilled plates and sprinkle goat cheese on top; then season lightly with salt.
Meyer Lemon and Honey Dressing:
¼ cup Meyer Lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
⅛ cup Honey
⅓ cup Neutral Oil (Canola or Grape Seed Oil)
Place lemon juice and honey into an 8 ounce juice glass. Add about ½ tsp. of oil and place whisk in glass and rub handle between your palms in a back and forth motion for about 2 seconds.
Repeat this process until all of the oil is combined and an emulsion forms— this process takes about 10 minutes. Cover and set side.