Valentine’s Salad is a perfect starter for a romantic dinner, it’s an earthy and colourful salad with roasted beets, strawberries, Roquefort cheese, sunflower seeds and arugula topped with aged balsamic vinegar for a romance in style.
If there is something I like about blogging recipes is to choose a name for my recipes. This one was a no-brainer… just had a quick look at it and it’s clearly a romantic-looking salad and Valentine’s day is coming up so ‘Valentine’s Salad’ seemed appropriate.
Since we are all having different eating habits and different partners… I’ve done 2 plating designs for this salad, one really light and modern with the beets being cut into squares in a minimalist presentation with just a few arugula leaves. I’ve used balsamic cream to decorate the plate.
The other version (see below) is a more everyday life salad, maybe a tad less aesthetic but filled with arugula and a bigger portion with lots of aged balsamic vinegar. Also, I’ve added small pearled onions marinated in balsamic vinegar, those taste fantastic, almost like caramels. It’s a product you’ll find only in Italian delicacy shops. Both salad styles have the same ingredients, the plating is just a question of preference because, in the end, they both taste equally dreamy!
If you ask me “which cheese screams romance?” I’ll answer “Roquefort” right away. Roquefort is, in my opinion, one of the sexiest cheeses out there, I can not put exactly the finger on it though as to why… Maybe it’s because it’s a bold sharp flavoured cheese just like passion is… or maybe it’s in its texture: creamy and soft or maybe the legend about how the cheese got discovered. A young shepherd boy eating his lunch in a cave in the South of France when suddenly he saw a young lady and just pursued her (not the creepy way hopefully…) and a few weeks later he came back and his cheese became blue from the special flora of the cave resulting into “Roquefort”.
The Art of Salad
By definition, a salad is a mix of ingredients, and making sense of a “mix of ingredients” isn’t always so simple. For this particular salad every single element is complementing the next; for example; beets are so earthy, they need an acidic and salty element to counterbalance them so the balsamic vinegar and the salty Roquefort are perfect for it. Roquefort has a sharp tang that can overwhelm but with the sweetness of the strawberry no worries here… arugula is bringing this light spicy touch and crunch to the dish…and on and on. But in the end, it’s all about having a general harmony which is what makes a salad stands out and a couple also.
I thought strawberries were the ultimate fruit for Valentine’s day but you could use other fruits to pair this salad with; raspberries would be great or blueberries. The choice of lettuce also can easily change to whatever you fancy. If you are not certain your partner is a blue cheese lover, try it out with fresh goat cheese maybe? This salad is highly adaptable to your taste.
- 1 pre-roasted beetroot
- 10 strawberries
- 2 cups arugula
- 3 tbsp roquefort cheese (crumbled)
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds (optional)
- 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar (or balsamic cream)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- balsamic marinated mini onions (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Simply cut the beets in a square (modern way) and cut 3mm thick slices with the mandoline (keep the sides for later use).
- Add to the bottom of the plate the sliced beetroots.
- Add the strawberries, arugula, sunflower seeds, *pearled onions and crumbled Roquefort cheese.
- Drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar, then olive oil, salt and pepper.