I'm excited to hear veggie cuisine is claiming it's rightful place in the foodie community. It's music to my ears after traveling three times in the last month for my restaurant consulting work and being reminded how hard it is to get a good vegan option — even in fancy-pants restaurants. They just don't think about us "veg heads." Sad face. But I'm glad to hear it's changing and my hope is that more mainstream restaurants will take a clue. If you're ever in New York, here's a list of restaurants who are standing up for vegetables. Support them. Back to the beets.
I love them. They're among nature's healthiest foods, one of the best gut scrubbers and natural detoxifiers. They're hearty, filling, loaded with vitamins and antioxidants and I just can't get enough of them into my diet. If you feel the same way, here's a delicious beet, orange and hazelnut salad to try this week. At home, I don't usually peel my beets because of the rich concentration of phytonutrients in the skins, but for my personal chef clients and dinner parties, I like the look of a beautifully steamed and peeled beet, and it's really easy to do.
I use a white balsamic dressing with a splash of orange juice here, but this is just as awesome with brown balsamic or even just a little olive oil and lemon drizzled on top. Toast the hazelnuts to boost their flavor and enhance the crunch. Serve with brown rice as main, or alone as a side.
Ingredients for the salad:
1-1/2 lbs. fresh red or yellow beats, or a mix (about 4 medium to large or 5-6 small); tops on or off.
2 medium oranges
1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Curly or flat-leaf parsley (or other herb) for color and added nutrients
Ingredients for the dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer California brands for taste and transport efficiency)
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. orange juice (optional)
1 tsp. brown mustard
1 tsp. grade B maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Trim off the greens (if your beats got 'em) and save for another use within a day or two. Scrub the beets clean and pat dry. Wrap beets individually in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast for 45-50 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the beets. But don't worry, beets are forgiving and it's hard to overcook them). While the beets are cooking, make the dressing and toast the hazelnuts. When cool enough to handle, unwrap the beets, and under cold running water, gently rub the peel off the beets. You may need to use a pairing knife in stubborn areas. Dice the beets into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Next, using a small pairing knife, cut the peel from the oranges, including the white pith. Use your knife to cut the sections from the orange just inside the pithy dividers, careful to avoid as much pith on the sections as possible. Keep the orange wedges in tact for a pretty presentation.
For the dressing, whisk all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to your liking. (I rarely measure dressings anymore. I eyeball and taste and decide how bold I want the dressing to be in relationship to other items on the menu.) From there, drizzle the dressing on the salad and toss until thoroughly combined. The oranges will take on some of the color from the beets. That's okay, or you can reserve some of the orange wedges to add at the end for pristine color. Transfer the dressed salad to a clean, pretty serving bowl and top with the chopped toasted hazelnuts and a sprinkle of parsley. Serve, enjoy and march on to the "beet" of your own making. Bon Vegan!