This salad is a simple adaptation of one in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, which calls for the addition of Treviso, parsley, and orange flower water, all of which would be delicious additions here. I have added goat cheese to this salad as well, which I love, but blue cheese and other cheeses would be nice, too. Herbs such as tarragon, parsley, and chives would also add a touch of color and flavor.
A few thoughts: I like a 1:1 ratio of beets to orange, though feel free to adjust proportions to your liking. Also, although slicing makes for a pretty presentation, cubed beets and orange segments make for an easier and perhaps more enjoyable eating experience — slices almost require the use of a knife; cubes and segments do not.
Finally: Ottolenghi calls for boiling the beets, which I did for the first time in years, and which produced beets with a surprisingly light, pure flavor. I think roasting beets concentrates their flavor a bit more, rendering them sweeter, but if you haven't boiled beets in awhile, the method might be worth revisiting — it couldn't be simpler, too. Also, the quality of beet likely matters, too. If you are not getting beets in a CSA or from your home garden, try to buy them from a farmers' market. —Alexandra Stafford
2 to 5
beets, depending on the size
shallot or half a small red onion
vinegar (I like white balsamic)
good sea salt or kosher salt to taste
Pinch of sugar
2 to 3
handful of black, wrinkled olives, pitted and halved
Place beets in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then cook at a gentle simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or even longer, depending on the size. Just cook them until they are tender — when you stick a small knife into each beet, it should go in smoothly. Let beets cool in the water, then drain them and peel them. Cut each beet into wedges or small cubes and place on a serving platter. Season all over with salt.
Meanwhile, mince the shallot or onion and place in a small bowl. Cover with the vinegar. Season with a pinch of salt and sugar and set aside.
Trim off the top and bases of the oranges, and with a sharp knife, slice down along the flesh of the orange to remove the peel. Remove the segments by slicing between the membranes. (Alternatively, cut the oranges into slices, then cut the slices again so that the oranges are in bite-size pieces.) Squeeze the membrane and any orange peels with flesh still attached over the bowl with the macerating shallots.
Pour half of the shallot-vinegar-orange mixture over the beets and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Scatter the oranges over top. Pour the remaining shallot mixture over top as well as the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Scatter olives over top.
Let sit a few minutes before serving. As you serve, spoon the dressing pooling at the bottom of the plate over the beets and oranges. You could, of course, give everything a toss, just know that the beets will color everything red.