Is there anything better than a summer salad you can toss together for a last-minute picnic, post-hike treat or desk-side lunch? Start with a simple layering of spring onion and beets, vinegar or pomegranate molasses, topped with ripe fruit, nuts. A side of fresh burrata and crusty bread round out the meal. If you’re short on time, look for cooked, peeled and vacuum-sealed beets in the produce section of your local grocery store; I often keep some in the freezer for last-minute salads such as this one. You can also grate raw beets into this salad instead of roasting them first. Look for tangy, syrupy pomegranate molasses in the international section of the grocery store, or cook down balsamic vinegar on the stovetop in a small saucepan until thick and syrupy.
Beet and strawberry salad with pistachio and thyme
1 1/2 pounds red or golden beets (or store-bought, cooked and vacuum-sealed beets, or roasted — see below for roasting — or raw, grated)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for dressing salad
Flake salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced spring onion or green onion tips and some of the white
1 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar), divided
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
1 pint fresh ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
Leaves from 2 to 3 sprigs of thyme, such as lemon thyme (or chives or basil)
For serving, fresh burrata or fresh mozzarella or feta
If grating raw beets or using store-bought cooked beets, skip to step 2. To roast beets, preheat oven to 400 degrees; scrub beets of any excess dirt. Trim leaves (if fresh, save for another use). Cut beets into halves or quarters — of similar size so they cook evenly — and place on a large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with some salt and pepper. Wrap the beets tightly with foil and place on a sheet pan. Place in oven and roast 45 minutes to 1 hour. Beets should be tender when pierced with a knife point; remove beets from oven and let cool.
While beets are roasting, slice onions, strawberries and toast pistachios in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted.
When beets are cool enough to handle, peel, discarding peel and cut into slices. In a large serving bowl, add half the beet slices in a single layer. Top with a layer of half the onion slices. Drizzle with about 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (or vinegar) and season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with remaining half of beets and remaining onion slices. Top with sliced strawberries, toasted pistachios and thyme leaves. Drizzle with more olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Serve with crusty bread and a bowl of fresh burrata, mozzarella, or feta. Can be made and chilled a few hours ahead. Remove from fridge at least 20 minutes before serving.