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Roasted Beet Salad with Salmon

Roasted Beet Salad with Salmon
Courtesy Greenleaf Kitchen & Cocktails

Chef notes

As a chef, I have always been a firm believer that less is more. I was raised to appreciate the quality of each ingredient, know when items are at their peak and let nature speak for itself. My mom was an early adopter of the farmers’ markets in LA and while walking around, she would hand me a single berry or cherry tomato and say “teach your tastebuds how it’s intended to be.” She has always been an inspiration to me in the kitchen: a master planner who whips up effortlessly elegant meals and never cuts corners. She was self-taught and makes the best vinaigrette with just five ingredients. With this as the cornerstone of my culinary background, I have focused on how to coax these simple flavors to their maximum, starting with great products and finding ways to showcase their true and highest form. And now, I find that this is my preferred method of cooking — source great ingredients, cook them to their maximum potential and create combinations that enhance each other. 

My mom got really sick for a while when I was in grade school. I can make light of it now because she’s in great health and is still my number one advocate/mentor/supporter, but overnight, my siblings and I went from enjoying her delicious dinners to microwave-friendly meals and takeout. It was an important moment in my life — she leaned on us and we had to step up; cooking was one of the daily routines she had to hand over. Before that, we always had fun in the kitchen as a family, but this time forced me to learn the fundamentals and plan meals. For a while, we were scared for her and had to learn a lot about nutrition and healthy living. We started treating what we ate like it was a matter of life or death . . . because it was. So, a lot of what she passed along to us from her bed were clean, simple, and healthy recipes; fresh salads as the entrée and a protein on the side like a piece of fish.

For that reason, when people ask what my favorite dish is, I have a hard time giving a consistent answer. It’s constantly changing because it’s all about what’s in season and what’s best right now. It might be  pasta with three ingredients (like Spaghetti alla Nerano with mouth-watering zucchini, basil, and pecorino) or grilled lobster (butter, lemon and herbs) or Salt Crusted Fish and Vegetable en Papillote. Simple, proud, and beautiful flavors. No matter what the answer, my favorite dish d’jour has the ability to highlight a clear, specific profile. 

That’s why this Roasted Beet Salad with Salmon is a favorite go-to for me. It reminds me of the salads my mom would make growing up and those that we eventually learned to make for her featuring something sweet (like roasted beets), something crunchy (like  sunflower seeds), a little something creamy (like  goat cheese) with a simple homemade vinaigrette. Whether it’s just for the family or when we have company, I love this dish. Not only does it stir up really deep familial memories, but it’s a total crowd pleaser — healthy, hearty and so tasty!  


For the Beets
  • 1 pound red beets, washed and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1 pound golden beets, washed and cut into wedges
  • cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
For the Pesto Vinaigrette
  • 2 ounces Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped, stems discarded
  • 4 ounces fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, stems discarded
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ounces garlic, peeled
  • 3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 ounces water
For the Roasted Citrus Salmon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds center-cut salmon filets, about 1-inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pesto vinaigrette (above)
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • fresh basil leaves, for garnish
For the Salad
  • 6 ounces baby arugula
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled


Make the Beets

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine beets, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Transfer to a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, turning halfway through, or until cooked and tender.

Make the Pesto Vinaigrette 


In a food processor, add the parsley, basil, thyme, lemon juice, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and blend to combine. Add the vinegar and blend until smooth.


Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of the oil while the food processor is running. Once incorporated, remove 2 tablespoons of the pesto and set aside for the salmon. 


Slowly drizzle remaining 3/4 cup of oil to emulsify the ingredients. Continue blending until all ingredients are smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Make the Roasted Citrus Salmon


Preheat the oven to 400 F with an oven rack set on the lower middle position. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper (or foil) and grease it with olive oil. Set aside.


Use paper towels to pat-dry the salmon filet, ensuring that all excess moisture is removed. Place salmon on the prepared sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper


In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and pesto vinaigrette. Evenly spread the mixture over the top of salmon.


Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the tray and set aside. Carefully move the oven rack to the top position underneath the broiler, and place salmon tray back on rack. Broil on high for up to 5 minutes, or until top is evenly browned. Remove from heat immediately. Serve with extra slices of lemon and fresh basil as the garnish.

Make the Salad

In a medium mixing bowl, toss together arugula, sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Arrange in the center of a platter. Scatter the beet wedges on either side of the arugula. Garnish with crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the goat cheese and arugula. Place the salmon filet on top of the arugula. 

Jonathan Rollo is the “Commander-in-Leaf” of Greenleaf Kitchen and Cocktails, which has revolutionized the gourmet fast-casual dining experience. The farm-to-face culinary concept embodies Rollo’s wellness philosophy of using local, fresh, natural and organic ingredients that are both delicious and wholesome to create authentic, community-based dining experiences.