Beet and Fennel Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I learned about this salad recently when friends and I got together to cook Asparagus and Leek Quiche.  It was a perfect compliment!  I love both beets and fennel, so what’s not to like?  It’s easy to put together once the beets are cooked.  We thought you could add a little feta cheese and call it a main dish salad!

Ingredients

1 pound cooked beets, cut in small wedges

1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced plus chopped fronds for garnish

about 6 cups lettuce, torn in small pieces or use spring mix

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like chives, parsley, dill or mint (we used chives and mint)

Instructions

To cook the beets you can either roast or cook stovetop.  For stovetop, place the unpeeled, washed beetroots in water to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer at a gentle boil for about 20-30 minutes for small beets and longer for larger ones. Here’s a great how-to for stovetop cooking of beets.  Remove from heat, drain and let cool slightly.   When cool enough, you can easily slip off the skin with your hands.  Let cool completely and cut into small wedges.

Make the dressing by whisking the buttermilk and mayonnaise together until emulsified.  Add the herbs and continue to whisk.  Set aside.

Wash and dry the lettuce and spread on a platter.  Place the sliced fennel bulb on top of the lettuces, then the beet wedges.  Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad.  Garnish with the fennel fronds.

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Margaux says

Every year on the weekend of Pitchfork Music Festival,  we have friends come into town to stay with us, who are a part of the Flatstock Poster Convention at Pitchfork.  I always like to have one big family-style dinner for everyone, because the rest of their trip they’re eating festival food and fast food.  This year Beth and Mark got into town a day early, so Beth and Anne (who lives here already) helped me with dinner.  Beth also has a food blog, Tasty Yummies, and is posting something about this dinner as well. Here she’s chopping the beets in the smallest nook of the kitchen.

We made oven baked chicken, green rice (which I will post about someday…we make it A LOT)  and the beet, orange and walnut salad.

We expected anywhere from 6 to 10 people, so we made sure that we had a lot of food!!  The oranges look like grapefruit because they were maybe blood oranges, which we didn’t realize until we cut into them.   They were delicious, though, for not being in season!

Aunt Suzy says

I love salads with oranges!  This is a reminder that I’ve gotten stuck on another recipe, which uses oranges, red onions, preserved lemons and olives, which we can post in the future.  That one is delicious, but somehow I think this recipe is more sophisticated and elegant.  It’s the perfect thing to serve with oven-baked or roast chicken – a refreshing contrast!

Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad

The Beets


1 lb. beets
olive oil

Wash beets and pat dry. Place in a baking dish and lightly coat with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake 45-60 minutes in a 375 degree oven until done. Cool. Slip off the skins, cut into wedges and then set aside. (We peeled and cut the beets before baking to save time, and it tasted just as good.)

The Walnuts

1/2 cup walnut halves
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp walnut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together and place on a baking sheet. Toast in the 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes (keep a close eye on them after 5 minutes!!!  We burnt them, and didn’t have extra, so had to go without in the salad). Cool. Chop coarsely and set aside.

The Dressing

5 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Whisk together.

Final Assembly

2 navel oranges
1/4 preserved lemon, diced (optional)
1 head romaine lettuce

Prepare the oranges by cutting off the top and bottom. Cut off the skins with a knife so that no white pith remains. Then cut into sections. Wash the lettuce and either tear or cut into pieces. Dry. Toss the lettuce with half the dressing and place on a platter. Toss the beets with the remainder of the dressing and place on top of the lettuce. Garnish with the orange sections, preserved lemon and walnuts.

Our salad looks kind of plain because we burnt the walnuts and forgot the preserved lemons until the last minute, when people were literally scooping salad onto their plates…that’s what happens when there’s lot’s of cooks in the kitchen.  Lot’s of distractions!  But it’s way more fun to cook with good friends.  🙂