Monday, December 20, 2010

Nothing "Beets" This Salad: Five Leaves Beets with Blood Oranges, Arugula and Macadamia Nuts

On Saturday night I went to Saul for a close friend's "surprise" birthday party. (I put the word surprise in quotations because it was blown the day of the event.) The conversation was great, we dined for over 3 1/2 hours and the food was delicious. I had an incredibly flavorful beet salad for my first course. The salad contained heirloom beets, honey crisp apple, fennel, toasted hazelnuts and was dressed with a golden apple vinegar vinaigrette. It was great. I got inspired to try a unique beet salad of my own and this recipe (below) immediately came to mind. 
Five Leaves in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, puts a unique spin on the ubiquitous beet-and-goat-cheese salad.  This recipe substitutes goat's milk yogurt dressing for goat cheese and adds arugula, toasted macadamia nuts and sliced blood oranges. Delish! This recipe was featured in The New Brooklyn Cookbook- my new cookbook which contains recipes from Brooklyn's brightest culinary stars. (Mentioned in this post.) It has more steps than your typical salad, but it has more flavor too. The beet vinaigrette is so wonderful I might make it on it's own if I am crunched for time (and happen to have half a roasted beet lying around).   I make this salad when my entree is simple to assemble/cook or only needs to be reheated (i.e. Martha's Macaroni and Cheese). 
In addition to being delicious, this recipe also helps me with one of my most recent resolutions. Namely, eating very colorful foods that are rich with antioxidants. Of course this was much easier to do when it was CSA-season. Now that we are entering the duldrums of winter I need to remind myself to go with bright, high-impact fruits and vegetables. Check.
Goat's milk yogurt dressing with honey, orange zest, honey and a pinch of cayenne. 
Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Arugula, Macadamia Nuts, and Goat's Milk Yogurt Dressing (From Five Leaves Restaurant)
Serves 4 to 6
For the beets
3 medium red beets, about 4 ounces each, stems and root ends removed
2 medium golden beets, about 4 ounces each, stems and root ends removed
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 garlic heads, broken into cloves, skins on, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups coarse salt, plus more to taste
For the yogurt dressing
6 ounces goats milk yogurt
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of cayenne pepper
For the vinaigrette

2 shallots, peeled
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad
1/2 cup whole macadamia nuts
6 ounces baby arugula, about 4 cups
3 blood oranges (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced into rounds
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the beets and pat them dry. In a large bowl, toss the beets with the herbs, garlic, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Cover the bottom of a square baking pan with the two cups salt. Set the beets, herbs and garlic on top of the salt, cover the dish with foil, and bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 75 minutes.
Set the pan aside to allow the beets to cool, then peel the beets and cut them into wedges, reserving half of 1 red beet for the vinaigrette.  Keep the red beets and golden beets separate or their colors will bleed together.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.


To make the yogurt dressing: Combine the yogurt, zest, honey, and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.
To make the vinaigrette: In a blender or food processor, puree the shallots and the roasted red beet half with the vinegar and mustard. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream, blending until emulsified.


Place the macadamia nuts in a shallow baking dish in a single layer. Bake for three to five minutes, shaking the pan once halfway through to evenly brown.  Allow to cool slightly, then roughly chop.

Combine the red and yellow beets with half the yogurt mixture in a medium bowl and toss to coat. In another bowl, toss the arugula with the beet vinaigrette to coat.



To serve, divide the beets and blood orange slices among the four to six plates, top with the arugula, and garnish with the macadamias and a drizzle of the remaining yogurt dressing.
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