HUMBLE INGREDIENTS INFORM A VEGETABLE-FORWARD SALAD
From the Orange Lawn kitchen, a winter winner
When the temperature drops and winds are howling, it’s natural to want to curl up indoors, sheltered from the cold. We don our favorite layers and yearn for comfort food that is satisfying and hearty. Make it healthy and you’ve got a winning combination.
Such is the case with chef David Burke’s winter beet and quinoa salad with blood orange and shaved fennel. Conceiving it as a tasty mid-winter salad, Burke found his inspiration by reflecting on our agrarian past, a time when early Americans relied upon traditional and humble ingredients during winter months.
We’re talking root crops such as beets, onions, carrots and turnips, which settlers in the Northeast could store in root cellars. Lacking refrigeration, they used these cool, dark places – essentially, holes dug underground or partially underground – to get them through the barren months of winter. Root cellars not only protected the foods from freezing but maintained an even, cool temperature and humidity – a perfect environment for beets, which have rich jewel-colored tones, and are sweet and very rich in vitamins and minerals.
The blood orange used in this salad, containing loads of vitamin C, is native to Sicily and grown in the U.S., primarily in Florida and California. Citrus is at its peak during our cold winter months. Quinoa, a seed (not a grain) that the ancient Incans referred to as the mother of all grains, has had a resurgence in the past decade. Not only is it gluten-free, but it also contains an abundance of protein, dietary fiber and essential amino acids. Adding fennel, an herb with a delicate anise-flavor, provides a satisfying crunchy texture to the salad plus the health benefits of vitamin B. When combined with the acid in sherry vinegar, the ingredients make a powerfully nutritious, delicious and attractive dish.
Chef Burke has supplied a recipe to make at home, or you can sample it at David Burke Orange Lawn at the Orange Lawn Tennis Club. Follow him
Winter Beet and Quinoa Salad with Blood Orange and Shaved Fennel
From David Burke Orange Lawn
1 cup quinoa
2 blood oranges
1 head fennel
8 ounces goat cheese – allow
to come to room temperature
4 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (reserve 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, aged if available
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 shaved raw baby beets for garnish
watercress for garnish
Wash beets and wrap loosely in aluminum foil, season with thyme, rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper. Roast until fork tender at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour (time will vary according to size). Once fork tender, remove from the oven and set aside to cool, discard herbs, then peel and cut (large dice). Place into a bowl and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Combine quinoa with 2 cups water or chicken stock and cook according to package instructions.
Remove peel and pith and slice and dice smaller than beets.
Shave very thin on mandoline, or thinly slice with a sharp knife.
Toss beets and oranges together in the same bowl with sherry vinegar and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss fennel in separate bowl with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add quinoa. Season with salt and pepper. Smear goat cheese as the base on a salad plate, then set fennel and quinoa on top, finish with the beets and orange segments and garnish with shaved raw baby beets and watercress.