Fennel, beet and orange winter salad

The bright flavours and colours of a composed winter salad enliven a brunch menu, adding citrusy fresh notes to contrast the richer dishes. To prepare beets: Older winter beets benefit from being boiled rather than steamed or baked as you might a young summer beet. Wash, cut off the really gnarly bits on the end but save the skinning until they are fully cooked. Boil until soft, pour cold water over, and let sit until the beets are cool enough to touch. The skins will slip off and the bits that don’t you can shave off with a knife. Start this early, the beets are fine to sit in water but they need time to cook and cool. Skin in a deep sink to keep the beet juice contained and don’t wear white. To prepare oranges: Wash large heavy navel oranges, then cut off one end so they will sit up straight on a cutting board. Starting at the top with a sharp knife, and using your knife vertically, cut the skin off in a downwards direction getting all the white pith. Save the slices of peel to use for juice later. You will be left with a skinned orange with a cap of skin on top. Use this as your handle as you trim any bits of pith off the orange. Slice into rounds or quarters if you wish.

  • 2-3 med red beets
  • 2-3 navel oranges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ fennel bulb, sliced or shaved into thin slices
  • ¼ red onion, (about 1/3 cup) optional
  • fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice or quarter prepared beets and oranges and arrange on a serving dish or wide shallow bowl. Scatter over fennel and onion if using.

Make a vinaigrette with the oil, reserved orange juice, lemon juice and black pepper using the ratio of 3 t oil to 1 t acid. Right before serving, drizzle the salad with the vinaigrette and finish with a large flake sea salt such as Maldon salt.

Variations: Don’t like citrus? Toss beets with toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese. Don’t like beets? Grapefruit and fennel are a refreshing combo.