My ultimate go to salad for any occasion is this orange and beet salad. I found it in a cookbook on New Orleans cuisine years ago and I make it every chance I get. It’s great for serving a crowd or makes a light lunch during the week. This salad is perfect for the winter months when citrus and root vegetables are in abundance but canned beets and oranges can be substituted. Most importantly, it’s diet friendly without skimping on the flavor.
The Bibb lettuce is fresh and light, the spiced pecans add a great crunch and the creaminess of the farmer’s cheese works great with the sweet beets and tangy oranges. Certainly any one of the components to this salad can be substituted but I highly recommend trying it in its entirety with all the different flavors and textures working together in perfect harmony.
Farmer’s cheese is hard to come by but it is simple to make your own. However, if you’d rather not bother blending cheeses, crumbled goat cheese will be just fine.
Included with this recipe is my specialty vinaigrette. It’s perfect on any salad or spooned over grilled veggies and meat.
Fresh Orange and Beet Salad with Pecans and Farmer’s Cheese
4 small beets (whole canned beets can be substituted)
2 heads butter or bibb lettuce
8 clementine oranges (if using canned drain and rinse well)
1/2 cup chopped toasted spiced pecans (recipe follows)
For the Farmer’s Cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
For Deborah’s Specialty Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons local wild honey
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450F. Scrub and trim unpeeled beets, wrap in foil and roast until easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from oven, unwrap, and when cool enough to handle, peel the beets, trimming off any remaining root and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside to cool completely.
While beets are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together honey, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in oil until it emulsifies. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To make the farmer’s cheese, in a food processor, combine the cheeses and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cut and slice off the top and bottom of each orange. Stand each orange upright on cutting board. Following the curve of the orange, slice off the peep and pith without removing too much of the flesh. Cut each section free from the membrane into a bowl.
Divide the lettuce on individual plates or spread on one large platter. Arrange the beet slices and orange segments. Dollop the farmer’s cheese and sprinkle the pecans on top. Whisk the vinaigrette and drizzle it over the salad.
Sweet and Spicy Pecans
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 325F. Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly coasted. Spread in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.