Beet, Blood Orange, Walnut, and Rocket Salad
- For the Beets:
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh beets
- 1 cup water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- For the Vinaigrette Dressing:
- 3 blood oranges (or regular oranges)
- 1 large shallot
- 1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup excellent extra virgin olive oil
- For Serving:
- 2 bunches rocket (arugula), washed and dried
- 1/2 cup walnut halves (toasted at 325 F for 8 to 10 minutes)
- Special Equipment Suggested:
- An 8- by 10-inch baking dish
- A small-holed grater
- A juicer
- A serving platter
Preparing the Beets - 1 hour:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wash the beets and cut away the tops and tails. Place in the baking dish, pour in water, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (or longer), until the beets are tender enough to be pierced easily with a toothpick or small knife. Remove foil, let the beets cool, and then peel them over the sink (their skins will rub off easily). Slice the beets thin; season with salt and pepper.
Preparing the Oranges:
Grate the zest (orange part of peel) of 1 orange into a small bowl, being careful not to include any white pith. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from one half into the grated zest (set the second half aside in case you need it later). From both ends of the 2 remaining oranges, cut slices deep enough to expose the flesh. Stand each orange on end and neatly slice off strips of skin and pith, from top to bottom, all around, to expose the naked flesh. Cut oranges into thin slices and set aside for the salad.
Peel the shallot, cut into fine dice, and stir at once into the orange juice and zest. Add salt. Whisk the vinegar and then the oil into the bowl. Taste carefully and determine if more oil or vinegar is needed, or juice from the reserved orange half. The sauce should be on the acidic side, to balance the sweetness of the oranges and beets.
Arrange the rocket on the platter. Spoon a few tablespoons of vinaigrette over the beets, toss to coat evenly, and then place artfully on the rocket. Lay orange slices around the platter and scatter walnuts over the top. Spoon on enough vinaigrette to coat the salad. Serve immediately.
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