Winter Salad with Yellow Beet, Blood Orange, Fennel and Chèvre

Photo: Heather Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

On the cusp of a new season, cold-weather produce is increasingly more prevalent at the markets, offering a contrast of gorgeous colors, flavors and textures. This recipe includes earthy-sweet roasted golden beets and a crunchy hint of licorice from thin slices of fennel bulb.  Chèvre adds a creamy tang and gives this salad more substance, and the vinaigrette matches tart blood orange juice with extra-virgin olive oil for a bright finish.

This salad is a nice departure from the usual mixture of greens, is a welcome change of pace from rich, heavy and often meaty or starchy cold-weather foods that can be staples on the winter table. It as lovely on its own as it is alongside a lean protein or warm whole grains, and is perfect for exploring the many varieties of citrus and beets available during these colder months — try those that you like best, are in season and on sale, or simply catch your eye at the market.

Cheery and nutritious, I’d be happy enjoying this showstopper of a salad all year round!


Yellow Beet, Blood Orange, Fennel and Chèvre Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large or 4 small golden beets, washed well, greens removed if still attached
  • 2 small to medium fennel bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons fennel fronds, divided: 1 tablespoon minced and 1 tablespoon whole
  • 3 small blood oranges, divided: 2 for the salad and 1 for juicing (to yield about ¼ cup)
  • 2 handfuls of baby greens — collards, kale, arugula or spinach — washed and dried well, thinly sliced into ribbons (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure honey
  • 4 ounces chèvre

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Individually wrap beets in foil and place on a rimmed baking tray or glass oven-safe dish. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes for small beets and up to 1 hour or more for larger beets. If you have beets of differing sizes, remove each when done.
  2. When cool enough to comfortably handle, gently rub off beet skins and slice about ⅛-inch thick.
  3. Cut off the stem and frond portions of fennel. Reserve fronds and either discard stems or save to compost or make stock. Discard the outer layer of the bulbs if tough or beat-up looking. Halve each bulb, then cut out and discard the core. Place each half on a flat side, and slice about ⅛-inch thick. Set aside.
  4. Peel two blood oranges and cut each crosswise into ¼-inch slices.
  5. Juice the remaining blood orange. In a small bowl or lidded jar, whisk or shake together blood orange juice and olive oil. Add minced fennel fronds, shallot, vinegar and honey and whisk/shake again. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. On a large serving platter or 4 individual plates, layer beet, fennel and orange slices. Lightly drizzle the vinaigrette. Keep in mind that the blood oranges and blood orange vinaigrette will quickly turn everything pink, so assemble salad just before serving for optimal presentation.
  7. If using baby greens, give them a quick toss in a small bowl with a spoonful of the vinaigrette, then pile over the salad. Top with nubs of chèvre and finish with a light pinch of salt and black pepper. Garnish with whole fennel fronds. Serve immediately.
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Heather Goesch
Heather Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, freelance writer, recipe developer and nutrition consultant living on the southeastern coast of North Carolina. Read her blog for healthy, seasonal recipe inspiration, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn.