Salata de Panjar

Beet and Walnut Salad

It’s salad. Quantities are approximate and there’s no reason you can’t adjust them to suit your taste.

3 medium sized cooked beets, either roasted or boiled, cooled and peeled
3-1/2 ounces feta cheese, rinsed and patted dry, or manouri (no rinsing needed)*
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, broken into large pieces
fresh mint leaves, about 10-12
flat-leaf parsley, about 12 leaves, plucked from their stems
1 small head of pale, tender lettuce – eg. Boston, Trocadero – plus a few beet greens if you have them
juice of one lemon
twice that amount of cold pressed walnut oil
pinch of sugar
salt & black pepper to taste

*A byproduct of making feta cheese, manouri is a soft, white, slightly dry cheese made from the whey of sheep’s and goat’s milk.  The texture is similar to chevre, the flavor like a mild, less salty feta.

1. Tear the lettuce into small pieces and spread them across a large serving platter (this salad look beautiful against white). If you have beet greens, arrange these loosely over the pale green lettuce, especially around the outer edges.
2. Slice the beets in half and the halves into thin slices or sticks. Put these in a bowl.
3. Squeeze the lemon into a small bowl and add double the amount of walnut oil. Add salt and black pepper to taste, whisk to blend thoroughly and correct seasonings. If too acid, correct with a pinch of sugar.
4. Make a chiffonade of the mint leaves (stack them, roll them up and cut into fine rolls). Mix half into the dressing and set the other half aside, unrolling and separating the strands. Pour the dressing over the beets and toss gently. Lay the beets on the bed of lettuce in the center of the platter, leaving a surround of lettuce. Don’t pour the beets from the bowl; you want to reserve some of the dressing.
5. Gently crumble the feta cheese over the beets. Not too fine – the crumbs should range in size from green peas to a thumbnail.
6. Scatter the walnuts and parsley leaves over the beets and feta cheese, and the remaining mint over the outer leaves. Drizzle any remaining dressing over the outer leaves.

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