Monday, March 4, 2013

Beet & Blood Orange Salad with Chevre

Here's a bright and refreshing salad to fight those winter blues! I know when many people think of beets in salad, they think of those slimy canned versions looking sad and neglected  under unappetizing florescent salad bar lighting. Colorful roasted beets are something very different indeed. They're earthy, sweet, and full of flavor. Blood oranges make great additions to salads while in season and add a zesty punch to whatever you include them in.

Use whatever greens you're in the mood for. I found a beautiful mesclun mix at the farmer's market that I tossed with baby kale. I also threw in some whole cilantro leaves. I liked the idea of using cilantro as a mini salad green instead of chopping it up and adding it to the dressing as I usually would.  If you're adverse to cilantro use parsley instead. 

It goes without saying that it would be wise to wear an apron when dealing with your beets and blood oranges (both have been known to leave a stain or two). Roasting and peeling the beets can be a little time consuming, so this might not be a weeknight meal for some of you. A helpful trick that I came across in a Thomas Keller cookbook is to rub the beets with paper towels while they're still warm and their skins will slide right off. I love this method as it keeps your fingers from turning bright red and speeds up the peeling process. Enjoy!



For the salad:
5 baby red beets (or look for fun varieties such as "candy cane" (chioggia) beets if you can find them)
5 baby yellow or golden beets
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 blood oranges
1/2 cup walnuts
10 oz. mixed greens, such as mesclun, arugula, spinach, baby kale etc.
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed 
4 oz. Chevre, broken up into bite-size pieces

For the dressing:
1 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
The juice from 1 blood orange (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup olive oil 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly wash the beets, trim the root end, and cut the beet stems leaving about 1-inch intact (save the beet greens for another use). Place two large sheets of tin foil on your work surface. Place the red beets in the center of one sheet and the golden beets on the other. Drizzle both varieties of beets with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Wrap the foil around the beets, creating pouches. Crimp the edges of the pouches to see that they are well sealed and place on a sheet pan. Roast the beets for 30 to 40 minutes or until the beets can be easily pierced with a paring knife. 

While the beets are roasting, make the dressing: in a small bowl, combine the shallots with the vinegar and blood orange juice and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil until fully emulsified. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the dressing aside until ready to use.

When the beets are done roasting, open their pouches and set aside until cool enough to handle, but still warm. While the beets are cooling, cut off the rind and pith of the oranges. Slice the oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch slices and set aside. Heat the walnuts in a small saute pan over medium heat, until lightly toasted, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring every so often. Set aside.

Cut off the remaining stems and rub the beets with a paper towel to remove their skins. Cut the beets into small wedges (keep the beets separated by color until ready to serve). Add the mixed greens and cilantro leaves to a large bowl. Pour on some of the dressing and toss to coat the leaves. Add the beets, oranges, Chevre, and walnuts. Pour on more dressing and gently toss with the greens to combine and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings 

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