When it comes to planning potluck dinners, salad is usually the last dish to get claimed. Salad isn't as showy as a cheese board, nor is it the dessert that caps off a fun evening. But, this Roasted Beet Salad with Labneh could change your mind about bringing salad to your next dinner party. It's delicious, pretty, and sturdy enough to be prepared in advance. What more could you ask for?!
In this beet salad, there's no need to worry about wilting greens (because there are none!). We use red and yellow beets for maximum visual impact, but you don't have to. The roasted beets are tossed in a zippy lemon ginger vinaigrette, then topped with quick pickled shallots and dill. Everything gets spooned over a lusciously creamy labneh base. This pairing channels beet-and-goat-cheese vibes, but uses labneh instead of goat cheese. If you've never made labneh before, don't be intimidated: it takes two ingredients, is easy to make—and it's always a crowd pleaser!
Key ingredients for the salad
- Beets: You'll need about two bunches of beets. We use a mix of red and yellow beets—mostly for looks! You can go with all one color if you prefer.
- Labneh: Make this the night before so it has time to drain. You could buy pre-made labneh, but it's so simple to make, you might as well go homemade if you can!
- Walnuts: Toasted nuts adds crunch and texture. You could easily swap the toasted walnuts for toasted pistachios, almonds, or even pecans.
- Shallots: Minced shallots get soaked in vinegar to become quick-pickled shallots. They're zingy and add a nice pop of acidity to balance out the creamy, salty labneh.
- Dill: Fresh dill really helps the flavors shine in this dish. Sprinkle the dill on top at the end, so it doesn't wilt.
Labneh, if you're not familiar, is a soft spreadable cheese that's made from drained yogurt. For this reason, it's sometimes called "yogurt cheese". Labneh is creamy, tangy, salty, and oh-so-good.
Labneh is super versatile. You can use labneh as a dip with pita and veggies. You can spread it on toast. You can spoon it into grain bowls and over pasta. One of our favorite ways to eat labneh is in this Roasted Beet Salad with Labneh (see recipe below).
It's very easy to make labneh. All you need are two ingredients: yogurt and salt. Mix the yogurt and salt together, then transfer it into a sieve that's been lined with a cheesecloth. Set the sieve over a bowl and let it drain the the fridge until it's thickened to a cream cheese like consistency. See the recipe below for full instructions.
We recommend plain, full-fat yogurt for making labneh. We like to use Greek yogurt to get a head start on the draining process—because it's already been partially drained so it's thicker. But, regular yogurt works too. If using regular (thinner) yogurt, use two layers of cheesecloth for the best results. And, budget a bit more time for the yogurt to drain and thicken to the consistency you want. See the recipe below for full instructions, using Greek yogurt.
Make ahead tips
This beet salad is make ahead friendly. Here's how I like to split up prep, especially if we're bringing it over to someone's place for dinner:
The day before
- Make the labneh: The labneh needs to drain at least overnight, so this is the one component that must be made in advance!
- Bake the beets and walnuts (optional): If you'd like to get a head start on prep, you can roast the beets in advance. And, you might as well toast the walnuts while the oven is on. Store them in airtight containers—refrigerate the beets and keep the walnuts at room temperature. (You can also do this step on the same day).
The day of
- Pickle the shallots: If you're bringing this salad over to someone's place, just mix the shallots and vinegar in a small airtight container (or jar) and head out the door. You can use a fork to scoop the shallots out of the vinegar, and scatter them over the salad when its time to eat.
- Make the vinaigrette: While you could make this the night before, citrus tends to be the most vibrant when it's freshly squeezed. So, as a middle-ground, I like to toss all the vinaigrette ingredients into a small jar just before leaving and then just shake it up before serving.
- Pro tip: Pack an extra lemon just in case you want to add a bit more zing!
- Assemble: Spoon the labneh on a platter. Dress the beets just before serving (if using red and yellow beets, this keeps their colors intact). Garnish and enjoy! For bonus points, serve with some crusty bread or focaccia on the side for dipping into the creamy labneh.
Roasted Beet Salad with Labneh
- 1½ cups full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 lb beets (red and/or yellow, see note 1)
- ½ cup walnuts (see note 2)
- 1 medium shallot, minced (¼ cup)
- ⅓ cup white wine vinegar (for pickling)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (more for drizzling beets)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon finely grated ginger
- Fresh dill (for garnish)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Make labneh: Line a sieve with cheesecloth, then set it over a medium bowl. Add yogurt and salt into the prepared sieve, then gently stir to mix. Fold the loose ends of the cheesecloth over the yogurt to cover. Transfer to the fridge and let drain overnight or up to 48 hours.
- Roast beets: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Place two squares of foil on a large baking sheet. Place beets on top (if using two colors of beets, keep them separate). Drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat. Bring the ends of tinfoil together to enclose the beets in a packet. Bake until fork-tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Toast walnuts: While the beets are baking, scatter walnuts on a small baking sheet (or add them to the large sheet pan) and bake until fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool, then roughly chop.
- Pickle shallots: Add shallots to a small bowl. Cover with white wine vinegar. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to pickle.
- Make vinaigrette: Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, dijon mustard, and ginger until emulsified.
- Peel and cut beets: When the beets are cool enough to handle, use the edge of a spoon to peel off the skins. Slice the beets into bite-sized wedges.
- Assemble: Spoon the labneh onto a serving platter. Put beets in a medium bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette, then toss to coat. Spoon beets (and extra vinaigrette) over the labneh. Drain shallots (or use a fork to lift them from the vinegar). Garnish salad with shallots, chopped walnuts, dill, and pepper.
- Beets: About 2 bunches. Try to buy similarly sized beets, so they cook evenly. If using two different colors of beets, roast each color in its own foil packet and refrigerate in separate containers (if prepping the beets the night before). Once assembled, the colors of the beets will mix over time.
- Walnut substitutes: You could instead use pistachios, toasted almonds or pecans.
- Make ahead tips: The labneh needs to be made the night before. You could also roast the beets and toast the walnuts before. Store beets and walnuts in separate airtight containers (refrigerate beets, but keep walnuts at room temp). For best results, make the vinaigrette and toss the salad just before serving.
- Serving suggestions: Can be served with crusty bread or foccacia, for dipping into the creamy labneh.