Fresh and bright, this salad pairs perfectly with rich meat dishes like pork or beef. The colors are sensational, the flavors heavenly.
4 medium beets
1 medium bulb fresh fennel
1 navel orange
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (use the vinegar you normally use for vinaigrette – I like the rice vinegar because it is the mildest of all vinegars)
1/4 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and trim beets. No need to peel yet. Wrap each beet, loosely in tin foil, separately. Beet juice can make a terrible mess and stain your hands and counter tops, so I wrap them separately, which makes it easier to check for doneness without making a mess. Roast them for 1 hour and check each one to see if it is done. Check by poking the beat with a fork to see if is tender. If not, re-wrap and continue to roast until done.
Remove beets from the oven and let cool. When beets are cool, use a paper towel to rub off the skins. Slice and place in a bowl. Drizzle with a bit of the vinaigrette (recipe below) and set aside.
Wash and trim the fennel. Cut it into quarters and remove the core from each quarter. Lay the quarter on its side and slice. Place the sliced fennel in a bowl filled with ice water and let it sit for about ten minutes. This makes the fennel nice and crisp. Don’t skip this step, or your fennel will be limp and rubbery.
Drain the fennel and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Keep the dressed fennel separate from the dressed beets for now. If you mix it too soon or too much the fennel will be completely dyed red and the salad won’t be as pretty.
Peel the orange and cut out the segments. Toast the walnuts in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, watching closely to avoid scorching. Let them cool and give them a rough chop. You will want fairly big pieces of the walnut.
Just before serving, place the dressed fennel and the orange slices on top of the dressed beets. Add the walnuts. Gently mix, taste for seasoning and serve. You will be the star when your guests taste this beautiful, bright salad.
For The Vinaigrette:
Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, canola oil. Salt to taste. Feel free to adjust amount of vinegar and oil to suit your own taste buds. And use your own good judgement on how much vinaigrette to use. You don’t need to use the whole batch. It will depend on how big your beets and fennel are.