Salad of the Month: Mustard Greens with Beets and Goat Cheese

Whenever I want to add a layer of flavor, texture and some interest to a salad, I heat the oven and roast any vegetables I have on hand to toss with the greens.

Whether it's winter squash, carrots, parsnips, onions or -- as in this recipe -- beets, the sweetness of these cold-weather vegetables does wonders balancing the assertive flavors of sturdy winter greens, especially kale, radicchio, endive and mustard greens.

Cutting the vegetables into thin slices not only makes them roast faster but also makes it possible for the vegetables to mingle with the salad greens without falling to the bottom. And thin-sliced beets and other root vegetables take on a firmer, caramelized texture after being roasted, ensuring they don't end up soggy.

Toasted nuts and shaved cheese also pair well with the sweet flavor of roasted beets and the peppery quality of mustard greens -- adding substance and richness on cold winter days.

Mustard Greens and Roasted Beet salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

Serves 4 as a starter or side

If you can't find mustard greens, you could replace them with arugula or extra baby spinach. For this salad I used an aged goat cheese called Midnight Moon: It is firm enough to shave and has a creamy texture and nutty flavor that works perfectly.

For the roasted beets:
4 small red beets, thinly sliced (not need to peel them)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
For the dressing: 
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Large inch sea salt
For the salad:
4 cups loosely packed bite size pieces mustard greens
4 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1 cup dill sprigs
½ cup shaved aged goat cheese
¼ cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

Roast the beets: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add beets. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to combine. Spread out over tray (it's okay if they overlap a little) to prevent them from overcooking and becoming too crisp. Roast for 16 to 20 minutes or until tender and lightly browning. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Make the dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, whisk to combine and set aside.

Make the salad: Place mustard, spinach, dill and shaved goat cheese in a bowl. Add the cooled beets, drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Top with pistachios and serve.

Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.

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