Call this a wonderful beet salad that doubles as a side dish or a hearty wild rice side dish that doubles as a salad and you’d be right either way.
- Easy recipe, each simple step can be done days in advance.
- A great way to introduce new flavors and textures.
- Gluten free, high in fiber, add more greens to reduce the calories and make the dish more salad-y
Until recently, I spent very little time thinking about spending winter closer to the equator. The truth is, I don’t mind bundling up to go outside for a few months of the year. What I do mind are the short, often gloomy, days and long dark nights.
A mid-December trip to Los Angeles left me feeling like birds who fly south for the winter are really on to something. Even without my kids to wake me up I couldn’t sleep past 7 the first morning. I pulled back the hotel blackout curtain and squinted into the pale morning light. It was Saturday. Down the street from the hotel the neighborhood was already bustling. Vendors were setting up their stalls for the weekly farmers market. From where I watched I couldn’t see much but I imagined tables with things I see in the northwest this time of year – piles of onions, root vegetables, apples, and winter squash. I love these ingredients they make me think of cozy slow cooked meals.
Walking through the market, a few hours later, I felt like I had time traveled to summer! If there hadn’t been holiday greens in all the flower stalls I really would have pinched myself. The tables had a few heartier winter vegetables but mostly they were displaying colorful fresh fruit. There were heaps of grapes, pints of berries, green mountains of avocado, and table after table of sunny citrus.
Growing up in Seattle, meant my experience with citrus was limited to what was available in the grocery store. A few years ago I was on a business trip to a more rural part of southern California. While on a short walk between meetings a flash of color caught my attention. I turned and peered into the trees. They were full of lemons! I cast aside all professional composure and waved at the first person I saw, “There are lemons in these tree! These are lemon trees!” The woman replied with a bless-her-heart smile then nodded and said lemon trees were pretty common in the area. Standing in the middle of the farmers market I once again went a little googly eyed knowing the selection of oranges, lemons, limes and more came from near-by orchards. It was just too cool.
Later that evening it suddenly hit me, “Hey! It’s not dark!” Even though the time was about 5 o’clock the sun had not set. That’s when it occurred to me, “It was daylight when I woke up this morning – at 7. At home the sun doesn’t rise until closer to 8 in the morning.” It only takes about 2 hours to fly from Seattle to L.A., and there is no change in time zone. I don’t really think about the cities being particularly far apart. However, when it comes to daylight hours near the winter solstice, southern California gets a notably larger portion of sun rays. Of course, this shouldn’t have been such a big surprise it is pretty basic science, I just hadn’t given the subject much thought before.
Three days in L.A. came to about 4 and a half extra hours of daylight. I relished every solar powered second.
To celebrate the best of west coat farmers markets in winter I put together this roasted beet salad with oranges and wild rice. There is a bit of a kitchen sink feel to the ingredient list but like a favorite song, you don’t want to skip a note. When it comes to choosing the leafy greens I have gone a bit out of the box by suggesting sorrel. This is a common leafy herb that has a mild sour apple taste. It may be growing in your lawn! If you don’t have sorrel available, rather than blindly test testing your backyard, use an alternate green like radicchio or lacinato (Italian) kale.
- 1 lb beets, leaves removed
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 large navel oranges, segments and juice separated*
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- 6-8 cups arugula and sorrel (may substitute a mixture of salad greens including: kale, radicchio)
- ⅓ cup (40 grams) walnuts, toasted & diced
- ¼ cup juice from the oranges
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 5 tsp dijion mustard
- 2 tsp honey
- ¼ tsp sea salt, add more to taste
- 1 dash black pepper, add more to taste
- Roast the beets:Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the clean, trimmed, beets into a baking pan tightly covered with foil. Cook the beets for 1 hour, until tender, then allow them to cool to room temperature. When the beets have cooled the skin will slide off easily. Peel the beets then slice each beet in half then into thin wedges.
FYI: Beet juice will temporarily stain your fingers and may permanently stain fabric. Wear gloves if desired and certainly wear an apron to protect your clothing.
- Cook the wild rice:While the beets are cooking, prepare the wild rice. Bring 4 cups of water and a big pinch of salt to a boil, add the rice, reduce the temperature to low then simmer for 45-1 hour until the rice has swollen and split to become tender but not mushy. When the rice is cooked, drain any excess liquid and allow the rice to cool.
- Make the dressing:Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Place the sliced beets, orange segments, and onion into a glass bowl or large zip top bag and cover with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for several hours up to 2 days.
- To serve:Spread the wild rice over a large platter, cover with a nest of greens including the parsley, then spoon the beet mixture into the center of the nest. Finish with the toasted nuts, some parsley and a few grains of coarse sea salt. Alternately, toss everything in a large salad bowl.