This week we’ve been featuring lots of recipes to make your life easier for the entertaining season. Even the most confident home cook can be daunted by chef-ing for a crowd. The scale is different from what you’re used to, you’d like to impress and so you up the ante from your regular roster of recipes… it’s all more than you usually deal with at dinner. Plus, you’ve probably still got small people running in and out of the kitchen looking for snacks, offering to help, or just making troubling noises in the other room. To take some of the pressure off, I like to start any dinner for guests with a dish that doesn’t need last minute attention, like a soup or a salad. And at this time of year, with all the delicious but heavy favourites like stuffing and potatoes, it’s nice to have a lighter element on the table. This beet and blood orange salad is one of my all-time favourite combinations and it looks really pretty in a nice shallow salad bowl. This is more of an assembly job than anything else and you can chip away at the steps throughout the day. To make things even less stressful you could plate this and have it on the table already as guests arrive so all you’re doing is pouring drinks before everyone sits down. photos by Maya Visnyei
- For the salad:
- 3 medium beets, washed and trimmed
- 2 blood oranges, supremed (don't worry, I'll explain!)
- 1 head of Boston, bibb or even romaine lettuce (something with some crunch)
- 5 or 6 leaves of radiccio lettuce
- 1 head of Belgian endive
- 1/3 cup of pecans, chopped
- 1/3 cup of feta, crumbled
- For the dressing
- 5 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 tsp dijon
- salt and pepper to taste
Boil or roast the beets. (I slightly prefer roasting them and if the oven is already on for something else then all the better. But sometimes I don't want to have the oven on 350 degrees for 40 minutes for three little beets and then I boil them and honestly, it's fine)
Either way, wash and trim them. If they're going in the oven, wrap them in foil and put them in a baking tin in case they get leaky. Roast them for between 35 to 40 minutes - poke them with a fork right through the foil and when you can feel that they're tender in the middle, they're done.
Let them cool a bit before taking the foil off.
If you're boiling them, slip them into boiling water and let them simmer for about 30 minutes. Again, give them a poke with a fork to check them.
Allow your beets to cool well before peeling them. The skins should slip off quite easily but you might need to make a small cut to get it started.
Chop your cooked and peeled beets into 1 inch cubes, and set aside
Slice a tiny piece off the top and bottom of each orange, just enough so that the orange can sit flat on your cutting board. Now, take your sharpest knife and cut the rind off. You're going to slice down the orange, following the curve of the fruit, just inside the rind and the pith so you expose the inside of the orange.
Work all the way around your orange until you've taken off all the rind and as much pith as you can. Segment the orange. Cut one side of the segment and then the other and the perfect, little skinless piece of orange will pop out into your waiting bowl. It sounds fussy but it's really is easy once you've started. The only tricky part is once you've worked your way around the orange it gets floppy and hard to hold firm. Please be careful!
Set aside your oranges (there will be a fair bit of juice and you can drain it just before assembling your salad).
Wash, dry and chop your lettuces into bite sized pieces.
Toss the lettuces together so you get a nice mix of colours and arrange in your bowl or platter.
Now scatter your beets pieces over. Drain your orange pieces and place them on next.
Put all of your salad dressing ingredient in a jar with a lid and shake it up or whisk in a bowl.
Use about half of your dressing to cover the salad and toss to ensure it is evenly dressed.
Now just sprinkle over with cheese and nuts.
You can put the rest of the dressing in a little serving dish on the table in case anyone wants a bit more.
Et voila! It’s festive, it’s pretty and hey, it’s pretty damn healthy, too.
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