Friday, January 6, 2012

Beet, Orange, and Black Olive Salad



Yes, yes, I know. This is an unusual flavor combination. If I saw this item on a restaurant menu, I'd think "how bizarre" and order something far more prosaic, like a Caesar or Cobb, or some other salad named after someone.

But I found myself in an increasingly common situation. The need to use up the plethora of vegetables that arrive in the weekly box. My parents have jumped on the proverbial vegetable box band wagon and now, like my own house, they take each week's box as a challenge. A challenge to use up the sometimes bizarre varieties of fruits and vegetables that arrive on their doorstep every Friday morning, delivered by a veritable vegetable Santa.

And this week? It was beets. Beets and oranges. Now, oranges, sure. Everyone can use oranges one way or another. But beets present a different kind of challenge. And beets and oranges together? Madness. Surely.

But trust Yotam to not only face the beet and orange issue head-on, but also throw another unusual item into the mix: black olives. In his preface to this recipe, he makes some claim about the wonderful blend between the sweetness of the oranges and the spiciness of the olives. I thought this was all blather, until I made the salad. And bizarrely, he was right. Eating the olive right after the orange and beet highlighted the special spiciness of Kalamata olives, balancing it perfectly with the citrus. And, again, I had to bow to those more knowledgeable than myself.

Try it, I dare you. You might actually like it.

Serves 2 generously

Ingredients
5 small or 2 large beets
2 oranges
1 bunch chard (or 1 Treviso or red chicory)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp chopped parsley
5 tbsp black olives, pitted and halved (try to find Greek black olives of the dry and wrinkled variety)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp orange flavoring (optional or orange flower water)
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper

Method
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place the beets in a roasting tin unpeeled and pop them into the oven for an hour to an hour and a half, until they are soft when prodded with a knife. Once tender, remove them from the oven and let them cool. Once cool, peel the beets and then cut each beet into wedges about 1 inch thick. Place the beets in a mixing bowl.

Take the oranges and use a small sharp knife to trim off their tops and bases. Now cut down the sides of the oranges, following their natural curves, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, remove the segments from the oranges by slicing between the membranes. Transfer the segments and juice to the bowl with the beets; discard the membrane.

Cut the chard into bite-size pieces (or, if using the chicory, slice it vertically into 1 inch thick slices).

Finally, add the remaining ingredients and toss everything together gently. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve.

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