There are many things to like about this recipe but its flavor and the simplicity with which it is made are the two most predominant. Lots of times, I wouldn't tell you to not use pre-toasted seeds or nuts because generally I think it is your call, but in this case, I will say toasting the sunflower seeds just before you make the salad adds lots of flavor. This recipe is adapted from Gourmet magazine. —thirschfeld
yellow or golden beets, racquet ball sized washed and scrubbed
Heat the oven to 350? F. Place the beets into an oven proof dish. Drizzle the beets with olive oil then season them with salt and pepper. Scatter the sprigs, not the leaves, over the top and all around the beets. Cover the pan with foil and roast the beets for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a knife slips easily to the center. Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool. This step can be done one or two days in advance.
While the beets are in the oven you can also dry toast the sunflower seeds alongside them for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the oven and season them with salt and pepper. They should be oily so the seasoning should stick.
Once the beets are cool slip them out of their skin (their skins slip off easier if you keep the pan covered while they cool). Slice the beets into thin 1/8 inch rounds either with a knife or a mandolin.
Season the lemon juice with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine the lemon juice with three tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk to combine.
Starting at the center of the plate spiral the beets outward so you have an attractive pattern. Sprinkle the seeds and the greens over the top along with the thyme leaves and the chives. Lightly drizzle on the dressing with a spoon. Serve.