Ahhh….the inspiration from Spring and Summer Farmers Markets just can’t be beat. This week’s recipe is for beets – one of the veggies that just burst with flavor when you buy them fresh from the farmer. Beets are one of the first veggies you can find when the weather is warming up, and whether Yellow, Pink, Red, Gold, White, Striped and Magenta, beets are delightful for their color and flavor as well as for their nutrition.

Did you know that beets can lower your blood pressure slightly in just a matter of hours? The nitrates in beets turn to nitric oxide which can help lower your systolic blood pressure and relax blood vessels. They are also a good source of betaines, which reduce inflammation in the body. And save those beet greens! They contain protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, beet greens also supply significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

The herbs that we use in this salad add to the flavor and nutrition, too! Along with the goodness found in basil and parsley, chives add allicin, an important nutrient that might contribute to lower blood pressure and cholesterol which can help with overall health.

Beets from the Farmers Market!

Roasted Beet and Blue Cheese Salad with Toasted Walnut Dressing

4 to 6 Beets, (about 2 LBs)

2 TB Olive Oil

2 TB Water

1 Small Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

3 TB Red Wine Vinegar

6 Cups Baby Lettuces, Watercress or Baby Romaine, (Yes! You can even use your beet greens that you have saved – just make sure to wash them well and chop them finely.)

1⁄4 Cup Toasted Walnut Oil

5 TB Orange Juice

1 TB Dijon Mustard

1 TB Chopped Basil

1 TB Chopped Parsley

1 TB Chopped Chives

Sea Salt and Black Pepper

1 Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese

Step One Preheat the oven to 375F Scrub the beets and trim the tops. Do not peel them. Place on a sheet of foil and toss with the olive oil, water and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the foil around the beets and place on a sheet pan. Roast for an hour or until tender. While they are roasting, place the onions In a bowl of ice water and set aside.

Step Two Remove the beets from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into large, bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl and while still warm, sprinkle with the red wine vinegar. Set aside to cool completely.

Step Three While the beets are cool- ing, make the dressing by whisking together the walnut oil, orange juice, mustard and herbs in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step Four Drain the onions and pat dry. When ready to serve the salad, toss the beets with 2 TB of the dress- ing. Divide between 4 plates. Top with the cheese, the lettuces and finally the onion. Drizzle the dressing over all.

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