Thursday, October 31, 2013

Golden Beet Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette (Happy Halloween!)

You want to bring a salad to a potluck...
Make golden beet salad with an orange blossom vinaigrette!

A few weeks ago, my brother got married at the Olympic Sculpture Garden in Seattle.  For the rehearsal dinner, he and my sister-in-law rented out a small restaurant called Belle Clementine.  The meal was memorable both for its company and its food.

Belle Clementine is located in Ballard - a fun, vibrant, and historically Scandinavian-filled part of Seattle. The space itself is beautiful.  The decor is modern, minimalist and warm.  The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and passionate.  For me, the open and homey kitchen is the highlight of the restaurant. It bears no resemblance to the standard stainless steel-heavy and utilitarian kitchens that most restaurants have. Wood is prevalent, cookbooks are displayed, and the lighting is not fluorescent. When you dine in the restaurant you get the impression that you are in someone's home watching your meal be made by friends.

Chef David Sanford and his team executed an incredibly thoughtful and thoroughly delicious meal.
In each course they added subtle homages to our combined family's varied ethnic backgrounds: Russian, Turkish, and Jewish.  You can see for yourself:

BC marinated olives, hard cheese, quince paste aka "membrillo"

Yogurt flatbreads with muhammara (roasted pepper and walnut spread) - taking advantage of last of season peppers, first of season walnuts

Salad of roasted golden beets, ricotta salata, and peppercress - orange blossom vinaigrette

Pan roasted Black Cod 
Alvarez farm chickpeas, garlic, carrot, celeriac and turkish oregano
Italian chard aka "Bietole", with sumac and shoestring leeks

Poached pear, pineau de cherentes, mascarpone, mint

The fish was ethereal, the pears were outstanding, but the golden beet salad really stood out in my mind.  I knew I would want to try to riff on the dish when I got back to L.A.

Then, I was invited to a Halloween potluck party and thought about orange-colored foods.  This salad is good any time of year, but its bright orange color is perfect for a sophisticated and exotic holiday dish.

This is my version of David's salad. Thank you for that incredible meal. If you're in Seattle, I highly recommend you check out his place.

Golden Beet, Watercress, Hazelnut Salad - Orange Blossom Vinaigrette.
Serves 6-8
Makes 1 cup dressing

6-7 medium sized golden beets
1 bunch of watercress (about 5 cups chopped)
2 cups arugula
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 watermelon radish (optional)

1-2 teaspoons orange blossom water (this is perfumey strong-tasting stuff... you can always add more)
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg's)
3/4 cup olive oil, or grapeseed oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil.  Rinse the beets to remove any dirt.  Place the beets (peels on) into the dish.  Cover the dish with foil; this will allow the beets to steam inside the dish.  Roast for one hour or until the beets are fork tender. Once the beets are fully cooked and cooled you can easily remove their peels.

Slice the beets. I like to cut them in half, and then again into thin half-moons.  You can cut them up however you fancy.  Place the sliced beets into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Add all of the salad dressing ingredients into a jar and shake vigorously until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Pour the vinaigrette over the beets until they are just covered with the dressing. You will have extra dressing, which you can reserve and serve on the side.  Place the beets into the fridge and allow them to marinate for at least one hour (you can keep them marinating all day).

While the beets are marinating, toast your hazelnuts. Place the nuts on a small tray and roast them at 325 degrees in a toaster oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown (you can  toast them in a regular oven, too).  Keep an eye on them as they roast; they can burn easily.  Once the hazelnuts are toasted and cooled you can rub off their skins, which can be bitter if you leave them on. Roughly chop up the hazelnuts.

To assemble the salad, add the watercress and arugula to the bottom of your serving dish.  Cut up a watermelon radish into thin slices and add them to the greens (radish is optional).  Pour the marinated beets and their juices over the greens. Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts over the top of the salad.

Serve and enjoy!

Oh, and this guy was the real star of the party (he's named Little Dog)... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

1 comment:

  1. This recipe is awesome, I should try it soon! Great writing, too.
    Love the doggy:)