This is the prettiest, classiest and sexiest salad I've ever made! It was on our Valentine's Day table (as well as my hazelnut, chocolate and fleur de sel "pot de crème" and a few homemade raw chocolates...). It's also one of my winter salad classics with only a few wonderful ingredients; blood oranges, sweet beets (this time a mix of golden and red), minced fennel, crunchy roasted pistachios and goat or sheep cheese. The only thing this salad needs to be absolutely perfect is a balsamic vinaigrette!
My favorite way to garnish this salad is to add pistachios, mint and crumbled goat feta on top of it. Occasionally, I also substitute the pistachios for roasted hazelnuts or walnuts. You can either top that salad with feta, aged goat cheese or fresh crumbled goat cheese. Most of the time, I add mint on top of it. I just love the contrast between the freshness of this herb and the earthiness of the beets and aged cheese. Now and then, I eat the vegan version as well (I just omit the cheese). When I do so, I pair this lovely dish with a homemade lemony hummus and some crackers for a super healthy and complete meal. I also love to use my leftovers with quinoa for a satisfying and nutritious lunch.
If you have a few extra minutes ahead of you, you can reduce balsamic vinegar (see how to reduce balsamic here). Drizzle the reduction on top of the salad with nut oil (pistachio or hazelnut), sea salt and fresh ground black pepper instead of the usual salad's dressing. This is another great way to enjoy this vibrant salad! In my opinion, both versions are as delicious ;)
When I buy beets, I like to roast or boiled a big quantity at the same time. They easily keep their nice taste and texture for a few days in the fridge. That way, I can use my few extra beets in last-minute salads, morning smoothies (like my beet n' blueberry smoothie) or in my "pink" beet hummus (my kids are just crazy about it!).
For years I used to peel the beets before cooking. Each time my hands and my kitchen countertop remained pink for a week! When I discover this amazing and life-changing trick, beets became one of my favorite food; you just have to roast or boiled your beets with the skin. Immediately after they're cooked, run them under running cold water while rubbing the peels off. As simple as that!
Beet, fennel, blood orange & pistachio salad w/balsamic vinaigrette
Yield : 4 servings (or 6-8 in appetizer)
- 6 cooked small beets (roasted or boiled)
- 1 fennel bulb, minced
- 4 blood oranges (or regular orange), sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion or shallot, finely chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup pistachios (roasted) (use roasted hazelnuts or walnuts if you prefer)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 blood orange juice (or 100% pure natural orange juice) - see note
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (or agave nectar for vegan salad)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- A few shavings of aged goat/sheep cheese to garnish (I love crumbled feta or crumbled fresh goat cheese as well on that salad) - optional (omit for a vegan salad)
- A few leaves fresh mint, finely chopped (use parsley, cilantro, dill or minced fennel leaves if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon pistachio or hazelnut oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger - see note
Roasting method : Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wrap beets in parchment-lined foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
"Quick" boiling method : place the beets in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook the beets until tender (25-35 minutes depending on the size of your beets).
Let cool briefly, then rub under cold water to remove skins.
Thinly slice beets and mix in a bowl with shaved fennel, thinly sliced blood oranges, minced red onion and green onion.
In a small bowl or a jar, whisk together the dressing ingredients ; olive and nut oils, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, sweetener, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Add grated ginger if you like. Add to the other ingredients and toss. Set aside a few minutes.
To roast the pistachios : roast your nuts in a pan over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on your nuts (they burn fast!). Coarsely chop with a sharp knife and sprinkle on top of the salad.
Add fresh mint and feta (or aged cheese) on top if you like.
If you want, you can prepare this salad one day ahead. To do so, toss the beets and fennel with the dressing and set aside in the fridge. Before serving, add the blood oranges and other ingredients and serve immediately!
I don't add the orange juice in the dressing if my oranges are very juicy. If not, the juice adds a nice little "citrusy" touch to the dressing.
If you choose to do the vegan version (without the cheese), I find that grated ginger adds a delicious twist to this salad.