This beet salad with goat cheese and honey is a simple vegetarian meal of roasted beets, creamy goat cheese, fresh watercress, and a honey drizzle.
One of our favorite local restaurants serves a roast beet salad recipe with a huge scoop of creamy local goat cheese, a generous drizzle of honey, and a few arugula leaves. No joke, the beets taste like candy. Legit. This is the salad that made me love beets. This is the salad that made my husband love beets more than he already did. I love how aesthetically pleasing the multicolored beets are on a plate, and I find that sometimes beet haters don’t even realize they are eating beets when they’re golden. Now that’s my kind of trickery. If you can’t find golden beets, using all red ones will work just fine.–Jessica Merchant
☞ Table of Contents
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey
- 3 golden beets scrubbed clean and greens removed (about 2 inches [5 cm] in diameter)
- 3 red beets scrubbed clean and greens removed (about 2 inches [5 cm] in diameter)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 cups watercress leaves (from 2 to 3 bunches)
- 4 to 6 ounces soft goat cheese sliced into 4 rounds
- 1/4 cup honey
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Divvy the beets into 2 piles—golden and red. Rip off a couple of sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Rub the golden beets with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and then wrap them together in aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the red beets and oil.
- Roast the beets until tender throughout, about 1 hour. (If your beets are unusually small, start checking them for doneness after 35 minutes. That said, 1 hour did the trick for us almost every single time.) Remove the beets from the foil and place them on a plate to cool slightly or stash the plate in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
- Once the beets are cool enough to touch, use your hands or paper towels to rub the skins until they peel right off. If there are any tough areas where the skin clings to the beet, use a vegetable peeler. Chop the beets into 1-inch chunks and season them with salt and pepper.
☞TESTER TIP: When the beets are cool enough to handle, use paper towels to rub off the skin. This will add a little more “grip” than peeling with bare hands and will keep your hands from being stained.
- Lightly toss the watercress in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil as well as salt and pepper to taste.
- Arrange some golden and red beets on each plate along with a handful of watercress on the side or beneath the beets. Place some goat cheese on the side and drizzle everything on each plate with up to 1 tablespoon honey, using less if you don't have a sweet tooth. Serve the salad warm or room temperature or cold.
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey VariationSometimes when we share a recipe with you, our dear reader, we don’t intend for you to take the recipe as gospel. Take this beet salad recipe. It’ll certainly work to a fare thee well if you follow it verbatim. Although should you choose to use the recipe as a suggestion rather than a mandate, you’ll find that you can play around with the different categories of ingredients. Swap arugula for watercress. Use all golden beets instead of red if the additional sweetness will ensure your kids don’t scream at the sight of this salad. Opt for blue cheese in place of goat cheese. Make it your own. Then share with us in a comment (and photo!) below exactly how you did.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
If you like beets, you will LOVE this roast beet salad recipe. For a such a simple salad it packs a lot of flavor. The assembly took mere minutes once the beets were chopped. I preferred the cheese crumbled over the top, but the other two testers who had goat cheese didn’t mind having the cheese sliced into discs. No one missed vinegar, and the honey added a lovely hint of sweetness with the peppery bite from the watercress. I did add a few walnuts to my salad, which really kicked it up. I used 6 large red beets since that’s what came in my harvest box this week. I forgot to weigh them, but they made more than enough diced beets for very generous portions on the salads. We used goat cheese on 3 plates, but one tester had an issue with goat cheese, so we substituted feta on hers. She gave me a taste of her salad , and I liked it as much as mine with the goat cheese.
A lovely little salad that speaks for itself—roasted beets, a drizzle of honey, a dollop of goat cheese, and some greens. Use any variety of beets—I like to skip the red beets because they are so messy to deal with, plus I like the taste of golden beets. I dressed the greens in a light vinaigrette because I was afraid they’d be a little dry without it, and I liked the addition of an acid. Here’s my handy tip for peeling the beets: roast the beets with skin on, as directed. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skin with a paper towel. This will add a little more “grip” than peeling with bare hands.
This is an incredibly simple salad, but it’s a real pleasure to eat. I like to serve beets with some acid in the dressing, usually a citrus juice, to counteract the sweetness. Here, there is none of that, but it turns out I didn’t miss it. A generous scoop of goat cheese provided plenty of tang to complement the sweet beets. I served the goat cheese alongside the beets and drizzled the honey over both. The goat cheese got mixed in as I ate. I put the greens underneath the beets. Since watercress is not in season right now where I live, I used arugula. It was great with arugula, so if you can’t get watercress, don’t hesitate to make the substitution. That said, I can see the peppery flavor of watercress being fantastic here, so when the weather is cooler and I have watercress, I’ll definitely make the beet salad recipe again as written. This serves 4 generously.
I love hearty salads, and this one has great potential. All of the components pair nicely with each other: the earthy and sweet beets, tangy goat cheese, slightly peppery watercress, and the sweet honey. My only qualm is the amount of honey. I used around 1/2 the amount called for in the recipe because I was growing concerned while drizzling that I was turning my salad into some bizarre dessert. A couple teaspoons per serving should be fine. The dish benefited from having the goat cheese crumbled, and maybe even tossed with the greens a bit to disperse some of that tangy flavor in lieu of using vinegar in the dressing. I love every part of this salad and will most certainly be making it often in the coming months, although I might add a handful of chopped toasted walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts in the future. Prep time was minimal, as the beets took about 5 minutes (probably less) to peel after cooling to room temperature. A word to the wise—use a cloth or paper towel to peel the red beets in order to avoid a big mess.
This ended up being a lovely salad. I could not find watercress, so I made 1 salad with baby spinach leaves, and 1 with baby arugula. Both were very good. I was surprised that I didn’t miss any acid in the salad. I thought that I would taste the salad and feel the need to add some vinegar but didn’t feel that way at all. I considered adding nuts for crunch, but after tasting the salad, I didn’t think they were needed, either. The crumbled goat cheese with the honey drizzled over the top was perfect as is. For a salad with so few ingredients, make sure each ingredient is good quality. I used a very nice locally made goat cheese, as well as really local honey (as in made about 6 blocks away). The honey really made a difference. I don’t think supermarket honey would do the salad justice.
Though I don’t agree with the author’s assertion that roasted beets taste like candy, nor do I think that this recipe might convert a non-beet-lover, it’s worth making. I’m a recent appreciator of beets. But sometimes I revert back when I picture the pickled beets from the grocery-store salad bar that my father would inevitably drop into the communal plastic salad container, pissing off us kids and especially my mom, who likened them to feet. It wasn’t until I received a boatload of beets in a winter CSA box and roasted them that I began to consume beets at will. You ought to be a strong advocate of beets if you opt to make this salad, and you will not be disappointed. The balance of sweet beet with tangy dairy is always a good idea, and the colorful presentation is notable. I upped the goat cheese to beet proportion big time and tried adding some acid at the end (both lemon juice and balsamic were good, and making a vinaigrette with the honey would probably be even better). The honey didn’t do a whole lot for me until the third time I made the salad and added extra honey. I think mixing the honey into a vinaigrette or maybe even coating the beets with it before roasting would be appropriate here. I also finished with a lot more salt, though I’m a salt fiend. Some pine nuts or sliced almonds would provide a nice textural contrast. This is a simple, light salad that is indeed enjoyable hot or cold and a good means of getting some fresh produce in the colder months. I’d definitely increase the amount of cheese. My cheese was more creamy than crumbly, although I did manage to scatter it around rather than cut it into rounds.
Let me start by saying I really like beets. I almost always have some roasted and ready in my fridge. Red ones. So this was really easy to try. They do take about an hour to roast, depending upon their size and age. I usually use a 350°F oven, but 400°F worked a little faster. I cut the beets into more manageable chunks, about 3/4 inch, and also chopped up the watercress a little to make it easier to eat. I was skeptical about only putting 1 tablespoon oil on the watercress, but that ended up being plenty. I put the watercress on the bottom, added the beets on top, and crumbled the cheese over the whole thing. A drizzle of honey was perfect. We did not miss vinegar—the watercress had a bite that contrasted nicely with the sweet beets. We really enjoyed this different way to present beets!
I love roast vegetables, and this beet salad recipe is right up there. I’m not really sure why we leave the beets whole when roasting only to chop them into 1-inch chunks. I think it would speed up the roasting process and give better caramelization to chop them first. I really think the watercress and maybe even the beets need acidity. I didn’t care for the earthy flavor of the beets paired with the bitterness of the watercress without another flavor profile. I eventually added rice vinegar to the watercress ,and the residual tanginess was just enough to add a bite to the beets as well. The vinegar and the honey are a great combination. It was really good the next day as well, although the watercress was a bit wilted.
The colors of the dish were beautiful—green watercress, gold and red beets, and white goat cheese. The serving size was about right. The cooking time of 1 hour left the beets soft—perhaps too soft if you wanted to use them the next day, and I would suggest cooking them for 45 minutes so that they are a little firmer. I used chèvre, which has a mild, creamy, and slightly sharp flavor. I crumbled the goat cheese over the beets and put a handful of watercress in the center of each plate. The recipe was visually appealing, although for contrast I would suggest slicing the beets into circles and crumbling the cheese over them, with watercress in the center of each plate. I did not miss the vinegar tang and have used this basic salad dressing since.
Originally published July 26, 2020