Dandelion greens can be quite bitter, but the olive oil, lemon, and salt in the dressing—and the sweet beets—mellow them so they give no more than a pleasant edge to the salad. (That said, cultivated varieties like Cichorium intybus available at grocery stores and farmers' markets, taste less aggressively bitter than the wild greens.) For the prettiest salad, go for a mix of beet colors such as red-and-white ringed Chioggia, golden Yellow Detroit, and reddish purple Bull's Blood.
3 pounds baby to full-grown beets, without tops but with root and stem ends intact (you need 4 lbs. with tops)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
About 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 cup walnut pieces
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
Zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 1/2 qts. loosely packed tender dandelion green tops or arugula
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub beets, pat dry, and put on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1 tbsp. oil and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bake until tender when pierced, 50 minutes. Roast nuts on another sheet, stirring often, until deep golden, 6 minutes.
Let beets cool. Meanwhile, toast cumin in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring, until a shade darker, 2 minutes. Coarsely grind in a mortar or coffee grinder. Pour into a large bowl and whisk with remaining 1/2 cup oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, the lemon zest and juice, shallot, and pepper.
Trim beets and rub with a paper towel to remove peels. Cut into wedges, putting dark ones in a medium bowl and lighter ones in another medium bowl.
Toss chicken with light beets and enough dressing to coat. Toss dark beets with some dressing. In large bowl, toss greens and nuts with remaining dressing, then gently combine with chicken mixture. Arrange on a platter and tuck in dark beets. Season with more salt to taste if you like.
We really loved this salad - I did add goat cheese to it, but otherwise kept everything the same and it was fantastic. It made 3 dinners and so far, at least three lunches (and maybe a 6th). Great, healthy, Sunday night meal with leftovers!
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