I find this salad really addictive. I love the balances of textures and flavors: Tthe chewiness of the bulghur, crunch of the walnuts, tenderness of beets, and the soft ricotta salata make me just want to take one bite after another. And the bright herbs, the citrusy tang, sweet beets, and the mellow walnuts taste like they were meant to be together.
Forever impatient, I started to microwave the beets for this recipe. They’ve turned out great this way and I don’t have my oven on for a whole hour to roast just a few of beets, or even take up 20 minutes steaming them on the stove. —Recipe, Interrupted
extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking beets
Scrub the beets clean. If the beets are over 1 ½ inches in diameter, slice them in half. Toss them with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper and put them in a microwave-proof bowl with about ¼ cup water.
Cover and cook on high in the microwave for about 7 minutes. If you can easily insert a sharp paring knife all the way into one, they are done. If they still feel somewhat firm, cover them and let them sit for another few minutes. Allow beets to cool and then peel and dice them.
While beets are cooking, put bulghur in a bowl, along with about ½ teaspoon of salt. Pour enough boiling water into the bowl to cover the bulghur. Cover the bowl and let the bulghur sit for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain off any remaining water.
In a small bowl, blend together lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, a generous pinch or two of salt, and black pepper. Whisk in the walnut oil and up to ¼ cup of olive oil (to taste).
In a large mixing bowl, toss together beets, bulghur, herbs, walnuts, and cheese. Pour dressing over salad until well moistened (reserving any extra dressing) and toss well. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving. If not serving for several hours, toss the walnuts in just before serving so they will be nice and crunchy and re-taste and re-season, as necessary. (The longer the salad sits, the more it absorbs the dressing. It may need moistening with extra dressing and/or another pinch of salt.)