Monday, May 3, 2010

Beet Citrus Salad (w/caramelized onions and honey oj dressing)

People LOVE this salad. I made it again last night, took pictures, measured the ingredients and FINALLY got sufficient info to provide that beet salad post. Yay for me!
Hate to brag, but here's part of a verbatim text-message of praise from Diana after taking a bite last night: "Sweet JESUS that is the best thing... Onions carmelized to perfection... Wow!!.....etc., etc." See? I could NOT have made up that 'Jesus' comment.
I never ate beets growing up. Somehow I stuck a stigma to beets - Euro-grandma food, gross pickled canned stuff - and avoided them in the produce section dismissing them as a root for WASPs to eat with stinky cheese in snobby atmosphere. My only experience with beets (until recently) is when I make Beet Horseradish during Passover (annually), and I actually buy them canned (how ironic!).
How did I miss the MAGIC of beets all this time? Well, I had my very own beet-awakening not long ago at LindaB's house. I was stunned by the beets' intense sugar and rich colors glowing on my plate. I think she simply roasted the beets in olive oil and added salt - straight-forward and SO delicious! (Really, where have I been?!) 
A few weeks ago, at Mark's school, the Kindergarten parents (I'm a K-parent) hosted a Teacher Appreciation Lunch. I was asked to bring in a salad. I decided on something colorful, involving citrus and BEETS and even seared up a platter of Scallops (separate post). The salad was a big hit and some of the teachers even requested the recipe. Here it is!
Here, beets become an unusual texture, a striking mix-in garnish, with intense flavor. I cook them like Mommy-Potatoes and throw them into crisp greens with a Honey Orange Juice Vinaigrette (recipe below). Instead of the standard cold, dense beet chunks, we they are chewy and even CRISPY. (Yum!) The result will be a delicious sexy mystery ingredient that will have people wondering and asking for seconds. You'll see;)
Make the Dressing first and keep it chilled in the fridge until right before serving.
Whisk the following ingredients until they emulsify:
1Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1Tablespoon Honey
1Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoon Orange Juice
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each)
Optional: add Supreme Segments of 1 Orange and 1 Grapefruit to the salad last.

I totally forgot about the fresh chunks of orange and grapefruit, that was originally included in the Teacher's salad! Oh well, it's now optional.
**Caramelizing Onions**
Cut 1 large onion into julienne slices.
Heat a pan with about 1 T olive oil or enough to coat.
Add the onion and cook on high for a few minutes or until slightly clear. Stir after 1 minute.
Add a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.
Transfer to a bowl and set aside at room temperature.
Add to the salad along with the dressing.
**Awesome Beet Chips**
baking sheets, parchment paper
10 fresh whole beets, half yellow and half red
olive oil
dried thyme
salt and pepper
(1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
(2) Scrub the beets, but do not peel. (But get rid of stringy roots that may grow off the beetroot.) Throw away the tops and bottoms.
(3) Slice extremely thin circles, about 1/4 inch or less.
(4) Coat both sides with a bit of olive oil.
(5) On large cookie sheets, cover with parchment paper. 
(6) Spread out the beet slices over the parchment paper, 1 layer, but overlapping about 1/2-1 inch.
(7) Sprinkle with salt and dried thyme.
(8) Put in the oven at 450 for 10-15 minutes, or until shriveled up and slightly crispy. The extra thin ones will need to come out first or they will burn! 
Make sure you have on surgical-style gloves when you are ready to handle beets. These monster-balls of color are intense and ready to stain anything in sight. (Your hands will be pink and purple for days if you don't wear gloves.)
I use a sponge to scrub the beets (not a soapy one, but one designated for potatoes/beets). Notice my gloved hands below. Separate the red and yellow beets to prevent the toxic red to bleed into the yellow!
Excess, garbage, colors!
If they are very fresh (aka super solid hard) beets, it will be a sweet work-out to slice super-thin discs. Way exhausting, phew! (I like knives. Mandoline okay!)
Cut them as thin as possible. Work it!
Arrange the beet slices one layer on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. You should anticipate heavy shrinking, so overlapping a bit is okay (see below pic). Sprinkle salt and dried thyme over all the beets.
Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until shriveled up and slightly crispy, but not black and burned (like some of the extra thin pieces below). See how they shrunk. Notice all that white space?!

Get your green salad out. Add the roasted beet slices. Add the chilled dressing. Add the Caramelized Onion. Add the chunks of orange and grapefruit segments if you want to really impress your guests.
Toss, toss, TOSS. Transfer to a platter. Serve with Seared TilapiaSeared Scallops or Garlic Steak or any other delicious protein. ENJOY!


  1. Had a fabulous soup at a Thai restaurant last week and it reminded me of yours. It was sweet and sour with tomatoes and pineapple. Didn't I have something like this at your house? Is there a recipe? Spicy but fabulous at the restaurant. I don't remember if yours was sweet and sour?? I do remember it was so over the top great.

  2. That was me Carole- I haven't figured out how to do this and why it asks me for a profile.

  3. Hi Carole!
    I made that Tamarind soup a few times but have rushed through making it each time. I need to be less frantic so I could write the measurements down and take pictures. But it's been on my mind and I will force myself to make it next week! Thanks Carole!