*photos by Ashleigh Amoroso
The other day, I picked up a pint of strawberries at the grocery store, fully anticipating the bland, lackluster berries I’ve had to settle for all winter long. I brought them home, gave them a rinse, and was shocked to take a bite into a sweet-as-candy strawberry that made me realize: spring is on the horizon! And in case you couldn’t tell, that makes me really, really happy.
One of my fave Austin restaurants, Juniper, currently has a grilled beet and strawberry salad on the menu that is so ridiculously good, I invited their Chef de Cuisine Amanda Turner to pop by our studio and show us how to whip it up at home just in time for spring dinner parties. I couldn’t believe the simplicity of its ingredients – it’s one of those magical recipes where the final dish is so much greater than the sum of its parts. The key ingredient, I learned, is the blue cheese that gives the entire salad a rich, restaurant-level quality and is so sweet with the berries, you might just want to eat it for dessert, too. Keep scrolling, and for an exclusive taste of Amanda’s cooking, scoop up your tix to the upcoming Austin Entertains event on Feb. 22! (more on that below.) Take it away, Amanda!
The colors in this salad make it a total feast for the eyes. Deeply-hued beets and strawberries contrast with the pungent cheese and it all gets topped with a shower of fresh herbs.
Amanda grilled the beets after roasting, but she taught me a little trick for those of us at home who want to get dinner on the table fast: to capture that same smokiness, use a couple drops of liquid smoke in the vinaigrette. This vinaigrette also uses strawberry jam as a stealth ingredient that makes it taste way more complex than it actually is.
Don’t miss Amanda cooking on February 22nd at Austin Entertains – it’s going to be a delicious night led by Austin’s greatest female chefs and creative cocktails from all-female bartenders. I love supporting the women who are doing amazing things in our culinary scene, so hop on over to score your tickets right here!
Keep scrolling for the recipe for this Grilled Beet & Strawberry Salad…
- 2 cups beets
- extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1 cup strawberries, cut into quarters
- 3 tablespoons blue cheese - we used gorgonzola
- 1 tablespoon candied nuts (any kind)
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives and dill
for the strawberry-balsamic vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 drops liquid smoke
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and black pepper
- Roast the beets: Scrub beets to remove any dirt and dry off. Using a sheet tray lined with aluminum foil coat the beets with oil and salt and seal with foil to form an airtight seal. In an oven at 350 degrees, roast beets for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until they are tender and pierced easily with a skewer. Remove from oven and peel the outside of the beets immediately using a towel to remove their skins. Let cool and dice into 1” pieces.
- Make the vinaigrette: In a mixing bowl, whisk together strawberry jam, vinegars, black pepper, salt and liquid smoke. Stream in olive oil while whisking. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
- Assemble salad: Toss beets and strawberries with vinaigrette until well coated and seasoned. Add some salt and pepper. Add strawberries and beets to two bowls or plates and top with candied nuts. Break the gorgonzola into chunks and place on top. Garnish with chives and dill and eat!