Monday, June 4, 2012

Golden Beet Salad with Orange Maple Vinaigrette

Sometimes you have to adjust your sails to the wind….sometimes you have to change your dinner plan to what looks really good in the grocery aisle!  The dinner plan I had for Sunday?  Smoked pork butt and coleslaw?  That got thrown out the window when I spied gorgeous bunches of golden beets at Whole Foods on Saturday.  There was no way I was leaving the store without them in my very own cart!

If you’ve been to Whole Foods, you know the perfectly displayed stained glass window effect going on in their produce aisle.  Red and orange and purple and green peppers all carefully lined up into impossible pyramids.  Purple, white and speckled eggplants march in lines to a drummer I sure couldn’t hear, but it was obvious they were right in step with the beat.  Leafy greens created fluffy ruffles that softened the shiny regimented veggies with just the right touch.  And then I started rifling through the beet bunches. 

I’m sure I felt the rolling eyes of the produce manager and could hear his silent plea to “just pick the ones on top for Pete’s sake!”  But I didn’t.  I dug to the bottom and picked the perfect two bunches.  Guilt forced me to make my best attempt at putting the rest of them back as I found them…sorta.

What would I do with my prize bunches?  Mentally I was already planning something simple to highlight the natural sweet earthiness of the beets.  I had an orange at home…and red onions and lemons and REAL maple syrup!  By golly, a warm orange beet salad to go with smoked pork chops and roasted asparagus was exactly what the NEW plan would be!  Goodbye smoked pork butt and coleslaw…till we meet another day.  Dinner Plan-it is flexible.

Golden Beet Salad with Orange Maple Vinaigrette

  •  6 large beets, trim off the greens to 2" above the top of the beets (I used golden, but red beets would be yum, too.)  NOTE:  do NOT throw out the greens!  Save them for another meal!
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, yeah, the real stuff...I like grade B...more flavor!
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wrap each beet individually in foil.  Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven until a knife slips into the center of the beets easily, but they aren't mooshy.  The amount of times depends on how big the beets are, but an hour, more or less....and then test.
Let the beets cool until you can handle them comfortably.  Squeeze the beet and the skin should slip off easily - if not, use a knife to coax it off.  Slice off the stem end.  Dice the beets into a large bowl.  Add the orange zest and juice and the onion.  Mix.
Add the salt, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and pepper.  Mix well.
Serve at room temp.  

NOTE:  Bunches of fresh beets, if you're lucky, come with leaves attached.  Do NOT throw them away!  Save them for braised greens that your grandmother would have made back in the day.  You will be so happy to rediscover this delicious, thrifty side dish!  Yep, the recipe is coming up this week!

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