Making a summer salad is easy. Ingredients are sometimes right out your back door in your garden or at a close-by farmer’s market.
Winter salads? Well, that can be more of a challenge.
One of my favorite winter salads uses roasted beets (a mixture of various colors if you are lucky), shaved fennel, mixed greens and oranges. My favorite winter orange? Well that’s the Cara Cara orange.
The Cara Cara orange, available December through April, is a newer addition to the American citrus market. Sometimes referred to as a red navel, the Cara Cara is a cross between the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel. Originating at the Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela, the fruit was brought to the United States in the late 80’s. Because they’re seedless, these ruby-fleshed gems make the perfect fruit to perk up a winter salad.
Tossed in a homemade vinaigrette and garnished with a few pieces of goat cheese and you have a terrific winter salad.
Beet, Orange and Goat Cheese Salad
Look for seedless and colorful oranges like Cara Cara or blood oranges.
- 2 large beets, red or yellow
- 1 small fennel bulb, fronds (top) removed
- 2 Cara Cara or blood oranges, peeled and cut into segments
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or walnut pieces
- 4 cups red leaf or green leaf lettuce
- 4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
To prepare the beets - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place raw, cleaned beets on a large piece of foil and drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and place on a baking pan. Roast in the preheated oven until tender – about 45 minutes to one hour depending on the size of the beets. A paring knife should easily go through the beets when they are done.
When the beets are cool enough to work with, place them under cold water and remove the skins. A paring knife may be needed to remove all of the beet skin. Cut into thin slices or wedges.
Halve the fennel bulb. Use a paring knife to remove the inner fennel core. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer, slice the fennel bulb into thin slices.
Make the dressing by combining the honey, white wine vinegar, walnut oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Place the lettuce, nuts, sliced fennel bulb, chopped mint and oranges in a bowl. Toss with dressing. Place on a large serving platter or on 6 individual plates. Place the cooked beets around the salad along with the goat cheese.