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Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese, Arugula and Pear Salad

After graduating from university, I worked in an office building with an Italian eatery which offered takeout. When they first opened, they offered quality food at affordable prices. Even better yet was that the portion sizes were generous. My favorite salad was their beet salad.

Word got out about the Italian eatery. Slowly prices increased and their portion sizes decreased significantly. The quality also went down which lost them a lot of customers, including me.

I decided to make my own beet salad since it is a relatively easy recipe. Over these years, I have been merrily making my own beet, goat cheese and arugula salad.

We went to a friend's house for a Christmas party last year. Jen served a beet salad that was a game changer for me. What made her beet salad stand out was the addition of ripe pears. The pears added a touch of sweetness which was missing from my beet salad.

In this recipe, I tweaked my usual beet salad recipe to include Jen's use of ripe pears and added dried cranberries (as suggested by Giada De Laurentiis), which added slight tartness. I also peeled and roasted the beets in wedges instead of roasting it whole. This salad was so good that I did not even notice the absence of walnuts! My husband said it best: "I could eat this salad forever". Amen to that!

Dress the salad first and then add the goat cheese on top.

4 medium red beets
1 medium golden beets
Olive oil
1 ripe pear (Bartlett or Anjou), cut into bite sized cubes
1/4 cup dried cranberries
12 oz goat cheese
3 cups arugula, washed and dried

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Left clockwise: honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Peel beets and cut into wedges. In a bowl, toss beets in olive oil. Spread beets in a single layer on baking sheet lined with aluminium foil. Make sure the beets are not overcrowding the pan.

3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the beets half way through.

4. Allow the beets to cool to room temperature.

5. In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar, honey, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat the vinaigrette in the microwave for 20 seconds and mix thoroughly.

About 10 minutes before serving
6. In a large serving bowl, toss together the beets, cubed pears, dried cranberries and arugula with the vinaigrette.

7. Serve with goat cheese on top.

Source: Inspired and adapted from Jen, Ina Garten, Food Network and Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

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