Friday, February 28, 2014

Winter's Nearly Over Beet and Orange Salad

The sun has been starting to shine a bit here in the Pacific Northwest.  Not enough to pull out the capri pants yet, but I saw crocuses blooming on my walk today and the sky is so gloriously blue that it is making me start fantasizing about spring salads.  This salad has all the feel of a spring salad but made with readily available winter ingredients: beets, Cara Cara oranges, and spinach. 

It's actually two salads in one.  Instead of serving them separately, I present them on one plate for a really lovely presentation.
The only special ingredients here are really good quality olive oil, pomegranate molasses and the Cara Cara oranges.  I have no olive oil brand that I am loyal to at all.  There is a fabulous grocery import shop up in Seattle called Big John's PFI where I buy a lot of harder to find ingredients and try a different olive oil every time I shop.  I was absolutely obsessed with their olive oil from Morocco but when our gallon tin ran out, I switched to this fruity olive oil from Spain: De Prado.  My favorite brand for all things Middle Eastern is the Lebanese brand Al Wadi.  Their tahini is thick and creamy, not grainy like some other brands.  And their pomegranate molasses has a perfect acidity/sweetness ratio. 

Cara Cara oranges are getting easier to find all the time; I actually found some at my local Fred Meyers!  They are seedless, have low acidity, and the flesh is a lovely pink color.  They are a nutrient dense type of orange and have not had all the nutrients bred out of them for the sake of shelf life.  Make the effort to find them; it is worth it. 

Winter's Nearly Over Beet and Orange Salad

4 beets (a mix is good--I used 1 purple and 3 golden)
1 medium carrot, shredded or julienned
1 Cara Cara orange, peeled and chopped
fresh mint, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Juice of one lemon, divided
2 big handfuls power greens (I used spinach but you could easily use kale)
2 mini sweet peppers
freshly ground pepper

Start by cooking your beets.  Wash them thoroughly and then cut off the tops and bottoms.  Quarter the beets, and leave them unpeeled.  Cover with water by an inch in pot and set to low boil about 40 minutes.  Check after 30 minutes if your pieces are smaller.  Once they are easily pierced with a fork, rinse in cold water and peel.  The skins should just come right off.  Chop.  I like a little smaller size that can be on a fork with a bit of orange and lettuce at the same time. 

For the carrot, shred, julienne or chop finely.  I only used half a carrot because my julienne peeler makes abundant strips.   Chop off the tops of the sweet peppers and carefully remove seeds.  Then slice thinly crosswise to make little rings.  Cara Cara oranges have pretty thick peels so I found using a knife to cut off the peel worked best.

Save your extra carrot for your greedy Corgi.  

 Assemble the salads:
Combine the beets, orange, mint, and half the shredded carrot in a small bowl.  Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, juice of half a lemon and 1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses.  Note: I would have used a lot more mint than shown in the photo but I harvested this off our scrawny (I'm not dead yet!) mint bush in the garden.

In large bowl combine greens, rest of carrot, and sweet peppers with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and the juice from the other half of your lemon.  Season with a little freshly ground pepper. 

Finally, place green salad on large serving plate and then top with beet salad.  This will be sure to impress at any potluck or dinner!  I served mine with toasted whole wheat pita bread.

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