The addition of lightly cooked pears to this classic salad combination will likely make this already sweet vegetable more palatable to even the pickiest of eaters.
4 medium beets (about 1 1/2 pounds), ends trimmed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups arugula (optional)
4 tablespoons (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Wrap the beets in foil and set on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife easily pierces the beets. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Peel the beets, cut each into 8 wedges (wear disposable rubber gloves if you’re concerned about the beets staining on your hands), and transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until reduced by about half and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside.
4. Place the walnuts in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium-high heat, shaking the pan often, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Transfer to the bowl with the beets.
5. Add the oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
6. Add the reserved vinegar mixture, the salt, and pepper to the beets, tossing to coat well. Place 1/2 cup arugula (if using) on each of 4 plates and top with the beet mixture and pears. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon blue cheese.