Lovin’ Fresh is a series of recipes
designed to showcase produce gathered
from local farms or grown in my own garden.
I love eating with my eyes first. I know many a foodie has said that before, but the look of a dish can often mean more to me than the taste. Lucky for everyone, this post’s recipe has it all – vivid color, dramatic presentation and refreshing deliciousness. The flavors in this beet salad were meant for each other, although I wouldn’t have thought to put them together myself if Chef Bill Telepan hadn’t suggested it. By the way, Mr. Telepan is a man after my own heart, using lots of citrus and unusual seasonal ingredients like kohlrabi in his own special style of “lovin’ fresh” recipes.
The fennel this time of year is very mellow since it is still young and tender. If you’re not a fennel fan, don’t be afraid to give this salad a chance anyway, no matter where you are getting your produce. Sliced thin and dressed up in lemon oil, the fennel relaxes its anise taste.
As a starter course at my Memorial Day BBQ, this salad met with oohs and aahs when presented along side a slice of spinach quiche. Equally fitting at brunch as it is at dinner, top this salad with parmesan scallion crisps for a little extra flare. The best part about this salad? It’s shamefully easy to make!
Candy Cane Beet Salad with Orange and Fennel
Adapted from Food and Wine
5 medium candy cane beets
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 c. orange juice
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
1 t. finely chopped lemon balm
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Trim stems and roots off beets and scrub skins. In a small baking dish, place beets in 1/2 inch of water and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 50 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and drain liquid off beets. Run cool water over the beets to make them easier to handle. Remove skins and slice beets into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Chill in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Peel the oranges, removing the bitter white pith. Working over a bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the orange sections (you don’t have to do this if you’re running short on time). Adding two segments of orange to the membranes, squeeze them to get a tablespoon or so of fresh juice. Combine fresh juice with the 1/4 c. of orange juice in a small saucepan. Over low heat, simmer the orange juice until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, which takes about 4 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice reduction with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Chill.
Trim fennel bulbs of all stems (save a few feathery tops), halve and core. Rinse halves before slicing thinly. Set aside. In a bowl, combine another 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add fennel slices and lemon balm to dressing and toss.
*All the above steps can be completed several hours or a day ahead. Refrigerate until the time of serving.
When you’re ready to serve, toss the beet slices with the orange juice vinaigrette. Arrange beets on plates and mound the fennel on top. Place orange slices around the beets and garnish with feathery fennel tops.
(serves 4 as a starter salad)