I sometimes forget about beets, but then I spot my favorite, golden beets, at the store and can't stop myself from buying some — even if I don't have a set plan for them. And if they have the leafy tops attached? I'm definitely grabbing some since they come with a bonus bunch of greens I don't have to pay for. When tossed with warm farro and feta, this becomes one my favorite ways to eat beets.
This recipe has a lot of parts, but if you do them in the right order, it all comes together by the time the beets are roasted. I won't deny that it takes a long time to roast beets, but at least it's hands-off cooking time. You can always get a leg up and make them on the weekend, but I like to use the roasting time to cook up farro, which is a nutty, chewy type of wheat that holds up well to dressings and is a great make-ahead grain.
When the beets and farro are underway, I turn my attention to the dressing and greens. Shallots are a great way to flavor grain salads, but I like to let them soak in the dressing for a while to mellow out and gently season the dressing, which in turn flavors the whole salad. Finally, the beets greens are wilted in just a little bit of olive oil. They add a vibrant color and also mean that you don't have to add any herbs to this salad to get a bright flavor.
Once all the parts are prepped, the last part just involves stirring everything together. Hot farro soaks up the dressing, then in goes the sautéed greens, roasted beets, and salty feta cheese. Feel free to sub in tangy goat cheese or even intense blue cheese cheese for a different twist.
This salad, which makes a generous amount, is great warm or at room temperature, and to be honest, tastes even better a day or two later. Pack it up for lunch, or serve the salad with some grilled seafood or meat for dinner.
Warm Beet and Farro Salad
1 bunch small red or yellow beets, with their tops attached (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup farro
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (about 1 medium)
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/4 kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Roast the beets: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Cut the leafy tops from the beets and set aside. Rinse the beets, then place them on a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap tightly to completely cover and place on a baking sheet.
Roast until knife-tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack, unwrap, and set aside to cool. While the beets are roasting, prepare the farro, dressing, and beet greens.
Cook the farro: Bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the farro, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Make the dressing: Place 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, shallots, vinegar, mustard, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.
Sauté the beet greens: Wash the reserved beet greens, dry, and cut crosswise into thin 1/4-inch pieces; set aside. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beet greens, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
When the farro is ready, drain well in a colander. Re-whisk the dressing, add the hot farro to the bowl, and stir to combine. Let sit until the beets are ready.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into medium dice. Transfer to the bowl with the farro, add the reserved beet greens and feta, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.