This salad is just that. Simply sophisticated! It’s a work of art with simple ingredients: beets, tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, and balsamic. Together they will excite your taste buds and sculpture your body. Okay, that last line was a bit cheesy, but I was trying to go with the da Vinci artistic theme. I was first introduced to this salad at Tony’s di Napoli in New York. My first thought when it arrived at our table, was how beautifully these ingredients were arranged. Three simple circles, stacked on arugula with a drizzle of balsamic. James ordered it, but I decided to take a bite and ended up eating most of his salad. It was delicious, and that is saying a lot because it’s coming from a girl that spent her life hating beets so when I tell you this is good; it is GOOD.
Such a beautiful vegetable. I can’t believe I hated them for so many years.
To let you in on my history with beets, let’s go back a few years, about 43 years to be exact, when I was just six and a half years old. I was raised by a veggie-eating, health-conscious mother who worked in our little garden and fed us organic vegetables every day, and that was when organic food wasn’t even cool yet.
We lived on a small farm in Louisiana near a winding, slow-flowing bayou that sometimes flooded our backyard. This made our ground very fertile for growing delicious, healthy vegetables that she served at every meal. My sister and I had to eat a small portion of each vegetable on our plate every day. I learned to like them all…except for beets. I hated those potato-feeling-cranberry-looking vegetables. I have no idea why they disgusted me. Maybe because the color made me think that they were supposed to taste like cranberry sauce or maybe it was just the stubbornness in me. I don’t know, but it seemed to me beets were served more often than they should have been!
My mother was convinced that I would create a taste for them, and I was convinced that I never would. She did not know this (she will still be mad about it when she reads my blog), but I had a “paper-towel strategy”. I would spit them in a paper towel when she wasn’t looking and throw them away after dinner. I never gave them a chance. I developed a taste for all our vegetables: cabbage, turnip greens, radishes, and even brussels sprouts. But never beets, never, never…never!
Well, that was until now…
I stopped the paper towel strategy a few years ago when Dr. Oz announced the benefits to these beautiful dark, reddish-maroon-purple root vegetables. I found out how beets were a “cardiovascular health” friendly vegetable. My family has a history of heart disease so this information got my attention. The unique pigment in this root, as well as in its top-greens, have been found to offer protection against coronary artery disease and strokes. Beets also lower cholesterol levels within the body and have anti-aging effects. They are an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and they provide detoxification support. WOW!
That’s when I started trying to eat beets. I would mix a small amount in salads and add a SMALL amount to my juicing recipes, and I must admit, beets became a little more palatable for me. Then I started roasting them with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And after having this beet salad in New York, I realized I had really started to LOVE beets. It’s a perfect combination and you must try it at least once.
Wash, slice, and roast the beets. Slice about two large garden, fresh tomatoes. This is probably the last of our summer tomatoes so early fall or late summer is the best time for this salad.
A bitter-sweet compliment to this beet-tomato duo is arugula. It’s just enough bitterness to accentuate the taste of tangy tomato and sweet-balsamic beets. The mozzarella gives it a creamy, softness, and the basil just tops it off with and Italian goodness.
A sprinkle of arugula on a plate, three roasted beets in white balsamic, fresh tomatoes, sliced Buffalo mozzarella, and drizzle of sweet, dark balsamic and a sprig of basil make the most delicious, healthy little salad. It’s just perfect, mouth watering, and I can’t wait to have some as soon as I roast those beets.
- 2 large fresh beets
- 2 large garden tomatoes
- 2 big chunks of fresh, buffalo mozzarella
- 2 cups of arugula salad greens
- drizzles of quality dark balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- white balsamic vinegar (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5-6 leaves of fresh basil
- Wash and peel the beets. Cut off the stems and roots. Peel the root vegetable with a vegetable peeler.
- Slice the beets into ¼ inch slices and brush with olive oil. To keep the bright red color, brush lightly with lemon or lime (optional). Place them on a baking sheet.
- Cook for an hour on 350 degrees.
- Lightly brush the beets with white balsamic vinegar and roast for an additional 5 minutes.
- Place a small amount of arugula on a plate.
- Place two or three beet slices on each plate.
- Top with a slice of salted tomato and a slice of mozzarella
- Garnish with a few small basil leaves.
- Drizzle with dark, sweet, quality balsamic vinegar.