Beet & Frisee Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Beet & Frisee Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
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About This Recipe

When autumn rolls into the Napa Valley, the vineyards become a mesmerizing palette of golds, reds, and ambers. Just as the vines herald the season's shift, our local produce follows suit, boasting some of the most delightful flavors of the year. A quintessential dish that captures the essence of this transition is the Beet & Frisee Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette. This salad mirrors Napa's landscape, blending the rich earthiness of beets with the crisp texture of frisee.

Our beloved Napa Valley is world-renowned for more than just its exquisite wines; our terroir, that unique combination of soil, climate, and geography, blesses us with some of the finest produce. Beets, especially, thrive here, their roots delving deep into the fertile soil, soaking up the goodness and reflecting it in their vibrant hues and flavors. When paired with frisee, a curly, slightly bitter green, the dance of flavors begins to mimic the ebb and flow of a typical Napa day - a bit cool, a bit warm, always invigorating.

But what elevates this dish to something truly special is the red wine vinaigrette. It's a nod to our wine-producing heritage. When you whisk that vinaigrette, imagine the labor of love happening at wineries across the region. And while we're on the topic of wine, let's delve deeper into the wine pairings that make this salad shine even brighter.

Sauvignon Blanc, with its crisp acidity and herbaceous notes, is like the morning fog that blankets our valley. A bottle from Frog's Leap could be your "safe" choice, harmonizing with the beets and contrasting the vinaigrette. For a more "classic" pairing, consider a lightly oaked Chardonnay. Its buttery nuances complement the creamy ricotta, creating a taste reminiscent of a sunny Napa afternoon. The Sonoma-Cutrer vineyards, nestled in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, capture this balance beautifully. And if you're feeling a tad adventurous, why not reach for a bottle of Grüner Veltliner? Although not native to Napa, its peppery notes and vibrant acidity make it an intriguing pairing, like the unexpected surprises our valley often presents. A local producer to look out for is Stony Hill Vineyard.

Now, think about placing this salad on a menu. Begin with a light appetizer, perhaps a goat cheese tart or a fresh oyster platter, leading to our star salad. Following it, you might serve a roasted chicken or a delicate fish dish, letting the flavors crescendo. Finish with a classic Napa dessert, like a wine poached pear or a grape pie.

Visiting Napa or Sonoma isn't just about the wines. It's about the stories, the people, and the confluence of nature and nurture. When you bite into a dish made from local produce, like our Beet & Frisee Salad, you're not just savoring flavors; you're becoming part of a legacy. So, the next time you're planning a visit or are looking to taste the genuine spirit of Northern California, remember to pair your wines not just with food but with experiences. Dive into local farmer markets, chat with vineyard owners, and let every meal be a reflection of the vibrant tapestry that is wine country. Cheers to good food, great wine, and the eternal charm of Napa Valley.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Beets

Napa Valley's fertile soil is a haven for many crops, but one that stands out, especially during the fall season, is the beet. These earthy gems are a culinary delight, not just for their vibrant colors ranging from deep purples to golden yellows, but also for their rich, sweet flavor and numerous health benefits. Packed with essential nutrients, beets are known to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and are rich in vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. Their earthy sweetness brings depth to any dish, and in our Beet & Frisee Salad, they shine as the hero ingredient, offering both taste and texture that resonates with the very essence of Napa Valley.

Perfecting Your Red Wine Vinaigrette

Making a vinaigrette might seem simple, but there's an art to achieving that perfect emulsification and balance of flavors. Here's how to make a flawless Red Wine Vinaigrette every time:

  1. Start with Quality Ingredients: Invest in a good-quality red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. The quality will shine through in your dressing.
  2. Achieve the Perfect Ratio: A classic vinaigrette uses a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. This balance ensures the dressing isn't too tart or too oily.
  3. Season Thoughtfully: While salt and pepper are essentials, consider adding a touch of Dijon mustard or honey to act as emulsifiers and flavor enhancers.
  4. Whisk Gradually: Slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar while continuously whisking. This gradual addition ensures a stable emulsion, giving you a silky-smooth vinaigrette.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I store leftover salad? While it's best to enjoy the Beet & Frisee Salad fresh, you can refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to a day. However, remember that the vinaigrette might cause the frisee to wilt over time.
  2. Any allergens to be aware of in this recipe? If you're allergic to nuts, you might want to omit the almonds or substitute with seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
  3. Can I use another type of cheese if I don't have ricotta? Certainly! Goat cheese or feta would be excellent substitutes, offering a tangy contrast to the beets' sweetness.
  4. What tools do I need for this recipe? A good chef's knife for chopping, a whisk for the vinaigrette, and a large mixing bowl for assembling the salad are key. If roasting your own beets, a roasting tray might be handy.
  5. Can I use pre-cooked beets? Yes, you can use pre-cooked beets for convenience. However, roasting your own beets can impart a deeper flavor.

Tips for Success

  1. Choose Fresh Ingredients: Especially with a simple salad, the freshness of your ingredients matters. Choose firm beets and crisp frisee for the best results.
  2. Balance Your Flavors: The beauty of this salad lies in its balance. If your beets are exceptionally sweet, consider adding a touch more vinegar to the vinaigrette or vice versa.
  3. Presentation Matters: While taste is paramount, we eat with our eyes first. Take time to plate your salad attractively, placing beets in a way that their colors shine and sprinkling ricotta and almonds thoughtfully.

Recipe Overview

Beet & Frisee Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 4 medium-sized fresh beets, washed and trimmed
  • 1 large head of frisee, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ¼ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil and place on a baking tray. Roast in the oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, approximately 1 hour.
  3. Once cooked, remove beets from the oven and let them cool. Once cooled, peel the skin off and slice into thin rounds.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, minced shallot, salt, and pepper until emulsified to create the vinaigrette.
  5. In a large bowl, gently toss the frisee with half of the vinaigrette until evenly coated.
  6. Plate the dressed frisee, layer the beet slices on top, sprinkle with toasted almonds, and dollop with fresh ricotta.
  7. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the top and serve immediately.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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