It’s true beets don’t immediately call summer to mind.
In fact, the first time I had a variation on this salad was last winter, while dining with a friend at ‘inoteca, at her suggestion.
I’ll admit it, I thought the dish seemed very uninspired from its menu description. I mean, beets? Not when there was pasta to be had! And, pancetta!
How could a lowly vegetable compete?
Through alchemy, as it turns out.
When the flavors of this salad meld together, they become something else entirely. The acidic from the oranges and vinegar mellows out the earthiness of the beets, highlighting their sweetness, and the crunch of the hazelnuts makes for a filling and satisfying bite.
By using golden beets instead, it becomes the perfect summer salad. They’re sweeter, for one, giving the salad an even lighter taste. The vegetables also call to mind one of my favorite activitiesstrolling in farmer’s markets when all of the produce is at its peak.
Then, there’s the color. What color! It’s practically like eating sunshine.
And, who wouldn’t like that?
Golden Beet Salad
Inspired by ‘inoteca
4 Golden Beets*
2 Oranges, Supremed and Juiced
1/4 cup Hazelnuts, diced
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1 TBS Mint
2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for roasting the beets
Salt and Pepper to taste
*You can substitute red beets here, just take care when you’re peeling them as they stain things easily. And, note that your final product won’t be quite as sweet.
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Wash the beets and coat them with olive oil. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of roasting, place the chopped hazelnuts in the oven, in a separate dish, to brown.
Remove the hazelnuts and beets and allow them to cool. Once the beets have cooled sufficiently, peel them and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
Supreme the oranges. The orange segments should be combined with your diced beets. Add the chopped mint to the oranges and beets.
Juice the discarded parts of the orange into a small bowl. Combine the orange juice with red wine vinegar and olive oil, whisking until the mixture is well combined into a dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the beets, oranges, and mint, tossing until everything is well coated.
Immediately before serving, top the salad with the chopped hazelnuts and the grated romano cheese.
Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as an appetizer