Scene-Stealing Roasted Beet Salad

Goat cheese and bacon vinaigrette amp up this Thanksgiving side from New Orleans’s venerable Tujague’s Restaurant

Photo: courtesy of Tujague's Restaurant

For 157 years of its 166-year history, Tujague’s proudly served a five-course, table d’hôte menu that varied only in the choice of a few Creole entrees. But even before the introduction of a more diverse à la carte menu in 2013, Thanksgiving was a bit different, with turkey and dressing supplanting the likes of trout almandine and chicken clemenceau. Today, the French Quarter institution, regarded as the third-oldest restaurant in America, still creates a special Thanksgiving lunch that showcases traditional roast turkey, but chef Gus Martin also has made stars of the first dishes to arrive at the table. A standout is his roasted beet salad, amplified by goat cheese, spiced pecans, and (mmmm) bacon vinaigrette.

“I love cooking for Thanksgiving because it’s about bringing people together and catching up,” Martin says. “The beet salad is a nice, light way to start the meal before you move into the heartiness of the other dishes.”

It’s also a prime example of Martin’s emphasis on seasonal ingredients. “I think beets are so good this time of year, and the best way to eat a beet is roasted,” he says. “Their sweetness is really complemented by the bacon and the goat cheese.”

Harried Thanksgiving cooks take note: Although the recipe requires separately prepping several components, none are particularly challenging, and most can be prepared in advance. Of course, you need not divulge that to your impressed guests.




    • ¼ cup sugar

    • 1 cup red wine vinegar

    • Peel of 1 orange

    • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

    • ½ tbsp. kosher salt

    • 2 medium red onions, julienned


    • ¼ cup minced shallot

    • ½ tbsp. dry mustard

    • ¼ cup bacon fat, rendered from 8 slices thick-cut bacon (reserve and dice cooked bacon)

    • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

    • 1 cup blended oil (¾ cup canola, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil)

    • ½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ tsp. black pepper


    • 1 cup pecan halves

    • 1 tbsp. honey

    • 1 tbsp. egg whites

    • 1½ tbsp. Creole seasoning


    • 3 large red beets

    • 3 large golden beets


    • 12 oz. mixed lettuce greens

    • 4 oz. bacon vinaigrette

    • 4 oz. roasted red beets

    • 4 oz. roasted golden beets

    • 2 oz. pickled onions

    • 2 oz. rendered bacon bits

    • 2 oz. goat cheese

    • 2 oz. spiced pecans


  1. Pickle the red onion: Put all ingredients except the red onions into a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a container. Remove the rosemary and orange peel. Refrigerate overnight.

  2. Make the bacon vinaigrette: Place the shallots and mustard in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the rendered bacon fat. Whisk in the red wine vinegar and slowly add the oil blend. Add the salt and pepper and whisk until well combined. Can be made a day in advance.

  3. Make the spiced pecans: Toss all ingredients in a bowl and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300°F for about 20 minutes. Can be made a day or two in advance.

  4. Roast the beets: Roast the beets whole on a cookie sheet at 350°F for about 35 minutes. Check them like a baked potato to make sure it’s easy to run your knife through them. Allow to cool. Remove the outer skin and dice into ¼-inch cubes.

  5. Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with room-temperature vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving dish or platter. Distribute the beets and pickled onions around the salad. Sprinkle the bacon bits, crumbled goat cheese, and spiced pecans on top. Drizzle a little more of the bacon vinaigrette over the beets.