If you happen to be in the market for a make ahead Thanksgiving salad that is just a bit out of the norm, but will have your guest’s eyes rolling back in their heads, you’ve come to the right place. Rich, earthy beets, baby arugula, and a fresh orange juice vinaigrette. And let’s not forget those big old chunks of blue cheese on top – because that would just be wrong.
I got to thinking about this recipe a couple of weeks ago when we harvested our beet crop. Those of you who have read this blog before know that we share a garden spot with my mother, Neeners. She is a riot, but can be quite bossy. However, she is turning 86 in a couple of weeks, so is now on her best behavior so she can angle for the best present possible. I plan to ride that wave for as long as possible. Anyhow, back to the beets: we grew two different varieties, a chioggia, which is a beautiful fuschia color on the outside and has cream and deep pink circles inside, and a yellow. For this recipe, I also hightailed it to the store to purchase some of the deep red beets.
Scrub them up and we’re ready to go. Psst: here is an easy trick to roasting beets I have devised because I am lazy and do not want to individually wrap beets in foil (whoever thought of such a thing anyhow?), nor do I want to stand by the oven while they are roasting and wonder when they will ever be done. This method is a breeze, but you need a slow cooker. Just pick up one of those slow cooker liners at the supermarket (usually by the foil, plastic wrap, etc. section), line your slow cooker, lightly rub the beets with canola or other neutral oil, and pop them right in the cooker. Sprinkle the whole works with salt, turn on high, and walk away. In 3-4 hours you will have beautiful, perfectly roasted beets.
Let them cool and then peel and slice…or cut into cubes…or both. Aren’t they just beautiful? Now you can see where I’m going with this ‘Autumn Sunset’ name for the salad.
I like to make this a platter salad, meaning everything gets thrown on a platter and served, but you can also make individual salads – the choice is yours. I love this salad on a bed of baby arugula, with just some chopped beet stems and some sliced green onion added. The arugula adds a nice peppery compliment to the sweet, earthy beets.
Have fun with it!
When you’re satisfied with the layout, get your dressing going. We made a vinaigrette with fresh squeezed orange juice, orange zest, and plenty of dijon mustard. PS: the original plan was to add fresh orange segments to this salad, but since it was the very beginning of citrus season we just couldn’t find any oranges that were bright orange on the inside, so we skipped that thought. Feel free to add – it would be awesome.
Get that dressing drizzled on right before serving, but don’t forget some big old hunks of your favorite blue cheese.
Hope you enjoy!! xoxoxox
- 1 bag of baby arugula, washed and spun dry
- 2-3 scallions, sliced on the bias
- 2 yellow beets, greens removed and stems reserved
- 2 Chioggia beets (these are bright pink, and the insides are pink and white circles), greens removed and stems reserved
- 2 red beets, greens removed and stems reserved
- 4-8 ounces good quality blue cheese
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup orange juice (freshly squeezed please – besides, you need the zest so might as well make good use of that juice)
- Zest of one large orange
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (we used a dark Mandarin Orange vinegar, but use what you have and what you like)
- 1-2 teaspoons Agave or honey
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the Salad:
- First, prepare the beets. This is probably best done the day ahead since they take a few hours to cook through. The easiest way I’ve found is to line a slow cooker with a slow cooker liner (you can find these in most grocery stores). Scrub the beets; lightly coat them with oil and place in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt, turn the slow cooker on to ‘high’, and cook until tender. Depending on the size of your beets, this can take up to 4 hours. When done, remove from slow cooker and allow to cool. Peel and slice or dice – or both.
- Slice the reserved beet stems into about ½ inch slices.
- On a platter, arrange the arugula, scallions, and beet stems. Add the beets in any design you like, then sprinkle on the blue cheese. Drizzle with dressing right before serving.
- For the dressing: combine olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, balsamic vinegar, agave, mustard and salt and pepper. Whisk until completed blended and dressing begins to thicken, or use an immersion blender if you have one.