Warm Beet and Chèvre Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Image of Warm Beet and Chèvre Salad with Maple Vinaigrette in a white bowl
I'm really enjoying experimenting with winter salads.
Beets have become a staple in them.  This time, I put roasted beets and clementines on a bed of upland cress. Here in Eugene the stores are selling it as watercress -- it's not. The leaves are delicate and peppery, like watercress, but milder. You can buy it, roots and all, and keep it in a cup of water. I've been harvesting it like basil; the bigger leaves get snipped and allow the small ones to keep growing. I've had this one since mid- December and it's doing great.
Since it's been so cold I warmed it up by adding fried chèvre and a warm maple vinaigrette. The toasted hazelnuts added some crunch. I hope you like it.

Time: 2 hour (1 hour to roast the beets)
Yield: Serves 2
Level: Average

Close up of upland cress leavesIngredients:
4 medium beets, peeled and sliced into wedges
2 clementines  (or tangerines)
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, rough chopped
2 cups upland cress, washed and trimmed
6 oz  organic chèvre 
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil

Warm Maple Vinaigrette
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp grainy dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place beets in a pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast  for 1 hour or until tender. Remove to a bowl and allow to cool. You can do this ahead and refrigerate them until you're ready to make the salad. I've been enjoying root vegetables so much lately that I'm cooking more than I need while the oven is hot, then I add them to salads.

Peel the clementines and divide into sections. Put sections in a bowl and set aside.
Remove the larger leaves from the upland cress and rinse. Drain in a strainer until ready to use.
Chevre medallions, beaten egg, Panko Bread Crumbs

Cut or otherwise form the chèvre into discs approximately 1 oz each.
Dip each cheese disc in the beaten egg, then the panko crumbs. Put them on a plate and set the plate in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. You don't want to freeze them but they have to be cold and firm so they don't melt (liquefy) in the pan.

Chevre fryig in olive oilWhile the chèvre is cooling, assemble your salads in separate bowls. Start with the cress, then beets, clementines, and  hazelnuts.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan, on a medium heat. Place each disc of cheese in the pan and cook until golden. Turn over and do the same on the other side.  

Place the warm cheese directly onto the salad greens.

Warm Beet and Chèvre Salad before Maple VinaigretteImage of maple vinaigrette bubbling in saucepan.

Make the dressing.
In a small sauce pan on a medium high heat combine all ingredients and whisk together until the maple syrup starts to bubble (approx 3 mins). Remove from heat and drizzle over the salad. Serve immediately.