Roasted Beet & Citrus Salad
December 2, 2021
After a decadent week of holiday cooking, made with ridiculous amounts of butter, heavy cream, and cheese, I found myself craving a salad. In times like this, I turn to nutrient packed and brightly colored vegetables, such as beetroots, as a break from the seasonal parade of casseroles. Here, tender sweet roasted beets enlivened with orange, lemon, and red onion make for a gem-toned delight. The olives and parsley add to a sunny flavor evocative of the Mediterranean, which is a lovely place to imagine being during these cold dark days.
1 ½ to 2 pounds small to medium beets, see notes
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ red onion, thin sliced rings
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 navel oranges
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, stemmed (about ½ cup)
2 cups baby arugula
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarse chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly rinse beets, then trim off stem and root ends. Arrange beets in a baking dish big enough for them to be in a single layer. Pour in enough water to cover bottom of pan, 1/8-inch deep. Sprinkle tops with fennel seeds, a pinch of salt and a quick drizzle of olive oil. Cover pan tightly with foil and roast until beets are tender, between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
While beets are roasting, prepare oranges. Slice off the top and bottom ends of orange. Place one flat side down on cutting board, then use a sharp knife to carefully cut off peel and pith. Make cuts from top to bottom, following the contour of the fruit. Then turn orange on it's side and cut ¼-inch rings, crosswise. Set orange slices aside.
When beets are tender, pull them from the oven, remove foil and allow to slightly cool. While they are cooling, place onion rings into a large mixing bowl. To this bowl add red wine vinegar, zest, lemon juice, tarragon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, as well as salt and black pepper to taste. Toss onions around in the herb and vinegar mixture with a fork, then set aside to marinate at room temperature.
When cool enough to handle, use a pairing knife and your fingers to gently peel the beets. Slice beets crosswise into ¼-inch rounds. Add beets to the bowl with onions, tossing to coat beets in the vinaigrette. Set bowl in refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, add parsley leaves, olives, orange rings, and half the hazelnuts. Toss and check for seasoning, adding more salt and black pepper to taste. Add arugula at the last moment before serving, with another drizzle of olive oil. Toss gently, transfer to a serving dish then garnish top with the rest of hazelnuts, and a good crack of black pepper.
This colorful salad is made more beautiful by using a mix of beets. Look for classic red, golden yellow, or bright pink beets in grocery stores with large produce departments. I used a mix of red and golden yellow beets.
Late autumn through winter is when citrus fruits are fresh and in-season. Experiment with different varietals as they make appearances in groceries. Blood oranges, tangelos, pink Cara Cara navels, or clementines would all be fabulous in this salad. Adjust the quantity used based on the size of the fruit.
If you can't find hazelnuts, walnuts would work beautifully. Pistachios would make an elegant substitution, as well. For added richness try adding crumbles of gorgonzola blue cheese, feta, or even goat cheese.
This vibrant and bright winter salad will pair nicely with hearty roasted or braised meat dishes. A lovely addition to a holiday table, offering a welcomed balance to all the rich and creamy sides. To my friends who are celebrating Hanukkah, try this along with your brisket and latkes.
Chag sameach! Enjoy.