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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Last Beets from the Garden--a Fall Salad





On a late fall visit to Sekapp's Orchard just outside of town, I couldn't help but envy the baskets of beets, some of which were as big as baseballs. The beets from my garden were, as usual, very small and not very plentiful. In fact, almost the entire crop fit on the roasting pan when I prepared them last week. 
Still, even the tiniest ones have lots of the sweet, earthy flavor I love about beets, and I have been enjoying them completely unadorned.

Today, I was looking for a colorful salad to go with an otherwise "white" meal of mashed potatoes and baked fish. While broccoli would be one spot of color,  the menu still needed something more to brighten the plate.

Those roasted garden beets to the rescue. Combined with a few other colorful ingredients, they became a key ingredient in a bright, easily prepared and, incidentally, high in antioxidants salad and a nice reminder of the garden harvest I have been blessed with this year.

One caution--this is a quick to make salad, but it should be prepared just before serving, since the beets do have a very strong tendency to share their color with the other ingredients, especially the cucumbers. If you do make it a bit ahead, you may want to wait to add the beets until just before serving.



Fall Purple and Green Salad

1 c sliced or diced cooked beets (mine had been roasted, for an extra bit of sweetness)
1 c sliced mini cucumbers; if the larger cucumbers are used, dice them
1/2 c thinly sliced red onions
1/2 large orange, peeled and sliced, with each slice cut in quarters
about 4 c shredded Romaine or green leaf lettuce
prepared or homemade dressing--either raspberry vinaigrette or honey mustard would be good
freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the lettuce: wash and then roll each leaf into a kind of a tube. Cut across the leaf to form fine shreds. Place in a large serving bowl.
Slice or dice the vegetables and oranges and add to the lettuce.
Drizzle the salad with dressing and toss. Pass the black pepper for each person to add.

Variations:  

Drained, canned beets can be used instead of freshly roasted ones.

If you keep mandarin oranges in the cupboard, they could be substituted for the orange pieces here--and would probably be an even brighter addition to the salad.

Feta or fresh mozzarella could be added for extra protein--and flavor--if you need a little boost in that direction.

Dressing

If you want to make your own dressing, I had published a sweet vinaigrette earlier this year. You can find that at:

http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2012/08/farmers-market-day-and-quick-salad.html

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

2 T raspberry apple juice frozen concentrate--do not reconstitute
1-2 T balsamic vinegar, to taste
1/4 c canola oil or a light olive oil
1/2 t each dried basil, rosemary, and thyme
sugar to taste
salt to taste
1 T water

Crush the dried herbs in a mortar and pestle or process lightly in a small blender.
Combine all ingredients and whisk well with a fork or wire whisk. Allow flavors to blend at least a few minutes before tossing with greens.
NOTE-You may be surprised at how much sugar you will need to add to reach the sweetness you may have become accustomed to in prepared dressings, perhaps a tablespoon or so.























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