This winter hasn’t been easy, what with the Hollywood-esque polar vortex and below-freezing temperatures. Weather like this makes me crave both comfort food and bright citrus, a juxtaposition that worked well in the dishes Eric and I prepared on a recent Sunday afternoon. The beet and blood orange salad with mint and goat cheese was bright and refreshing, yet hearty for winter. Pork loin braised in pork milk and the panade of beet greens were the ultimate comfort foods for a snow day (and the best part are the leftovers, perfect for consecutive snow days, of which we have had many). And to finish the meal on a bright note, like light at the end of the tunnel of winter, a Meyer lemon steamed pudding provides a bright citrus sweet ending.
Inspired by Los Angeles Times recipe from A.O.C. chef-owner Suzanne Goin
- 3 bunches small to medium beets
- ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup neutral oil such as canola
- Kosher salt
- 4 large blood oranges
- 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon juice from blood orange
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A handful of mint leaves, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 6 oz of plain goat cheese (keep in the fridge until ready)
The LA Times article originally called for roasting the beets, but I preferred to boil them (I prefer the less intense flavor of boiled beets, and this is further justified by laziness). Also, I had some goat cheese on hand, and I thought this would go very nicely.
- Start by boiling a large pot of salted water for the beets. Once the water comes to a boil, add the beets and cook until fork-tender. For large beets, you can cut them longitudinally in half before adding to the water. When ready, let cool. Once cool, slice into very thin slices, approximately 1/16th of an inch (or as thin as you can get it).
- While the beets cook, prepare the blood oranges: after peeling them, use a serrated knife to trim the outer edge of the orange to remove as much of the pith as possible. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but I find the pith to have a slightly bitter taste, and I prefer to remove it. Then slice the orange into lateral rings, about 1/8th inch thick.
- To make the vinaigrette, mix together the blood orange juice and the lemon juice. Add the shallots and the salt and mix. Next add the two oils.
- To assemble, layer the beets and the oranges in a pretty pattern. Next, add the crumbled goat cheese to the dish, making sure to keep it well-chilled until ready and not over-mixing the salad. (Not keeping the cheese well-chilled and over-mixing will cause the goat cheese to dissolve into the vinaigrette and salad). Next, make sure your vinaigrette is well mixed and poor it over the salad, adding the black pepper and the mint leaves.
Note: I only had red beets on hand, but a mix of golden and red beets would make for an even prettier dish, when combined with the red blood oranges!