Bon Appétit (December 2010)
You may or may not be aware, but in his day job, Clay works for Share Our Strength, a non-profit focused on ending childhood hunger in America. He started there this last summer and loves the job and the mission of the organization. At Share Our Strength, Clay is the Online Community Director, and as part of that role, he's helped organize a holiday blogger fundraiser called Share Our Holiday Table.
Share Our Holiday Table is a progressive, seven-course, online dinner party, where more than 70 bloggers are dedicating their posts in order to raise awareness of the issue of child hunger as well as funds to fight the problem. As part of today's course -- Salads -- we're dedicating this post to Share Our Holiday Table. During this holiday season, we hope you'll consider making a donation to the fight against childhood hunger.
And now on to our regularly scheduled program....
It's hard to get excited about a winter salad.
Sure, they're often filled with roasted goodness or sometimes great citrus, but on the whole we seldom ooh and ahh over any winter salad. They just don't hold the same promise as a spring and summer salad, tossed together with fresh veggies and the season's best greens. Staring into the bottom of our crisper in early December, those lovely greens from our CSA seem so, so far away.
We are, however, beet fanatics. And as soon as we saw this recipe in Bon Appétit, we knew it would make an appearance on our table this month. Though we seldom make one at home, we often order beet and citrus salads in restaurants and love the combination.
In the fall and winter, we often buy beets at the farmers market, either to use in salads or as a side. Roasted until they're tender and sweet, they keep well in the fridge for several days.
We were happy to see that this recipe calls for microwaving beets, which is a new preparation for us. Placed in a bowl with an ample amount of water and microwaved for 15 minutes, beets become extremely tender, even if they do lack the focused sweetness of their roasted counterparts.
Once the beets are tender and slipped out of their skins, the rest of the salad comes together quite easily. Zest the tangerines, then peel and slice them. Toss slices of onion with a simple vinaigrette. And it's all combined on a bed of watercress.
We had two issues when it came to ingredients.
The first is that the recipe calls for frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate to use in the vinaigrette. Though our neighborhood supermarket had all other manner of frozen juice concentrate, there was no cranberry to be found. In its place, we purchased cranberry juice that we then reduced slightly in a saucepan, figuring it would be a fine substitution. It tasted great to us.
The second issue was that the watercress at our supermarket was not top-quality. It was struggling. But we bought it anyhow, hoping to make the most of a bad produce situation. It turned out to be fine in the salad, but some top-notch watercress would have been even better.
The compiled salad is very tasty, a perfectly good winter salad. The beets are lovely, the citrus is sweet, the red onion adds just a touch of bite, and the vinaigrette nicely ties it all together. Sure, our watercress wasn't great, but we still enjoyed it in this salad.
Will this salad knock your socks off? No. But will you and your dinner companions like it? Absolutely.
Are you a salad eater in the winter months? If so, let us know about your go-to winter salad!
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes
- 3 2 1/2-inch-diameter red beets, tops trimmed
- 3 large tangerines (such as Murcott)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
- 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup paper-thin slices red onion
- 1 large bunch watercress, thick stems trimmed
- Place beets in deep large microwave-safe bowl. Add enough water to reach depth of 1 inch. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until beets are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, finely grate enough peel from tangerines to measure 2 teaspoons. Cut top and bottom off each tangerine. Cut off all peel and white pith, following contour of fruit. Cut each tangerine horizontally into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, removing any seeds. Whisk oil, cranberry juice concentrate, vinegar, and reserved tangerine peel in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in onion.
- Hold 1 beet under cold running water and rub off skin. Repeat with remaining 2 beets. Cut beets horizontally into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Sprinkle beets with salt and pepper.
- Arrange watercress sprigs on large platter to cover. Arrange beet rounds and tangerine rounds atop watercress. Using fork, lift onion slices from dressing and arrange over salad. Drizzle with dressing.