Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 2½ pounds medium beets (preferably half red beets and half yellow beets), trimmed and scrubbed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves, rinsed, dried, and tough stems removed
- 1 cup thinly sliced sweet or yellow onion
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and very thinly sliced
- 1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts
- 3 to 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon prepared pesto or minced fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the beets in a baking dish just large enough to hold them (if cooking 2 colors, bake them in separate dishes). Rub the beets with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for about 1¼ hours, until the beets are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Set aside to cool.
- While the beets are roasting, make the dressing. Whisk together the vinegar and mustard in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil in a slow stream. Whisk in the parsley, pesto, and sugar with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Use your fingers to slip the skin from the beets, then thinly slice them (I use a mandoline to get even, thin slices). Toss the spinach with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and arrange in even beds on individual plates. Scatter the onion over, followed by the fennel. Arrange the beet slices on top, slightly overlapping, then sprinkle the beets with the walnuts and cheese. Drizzle the dressing over and serve.