Once winter really kicks into high gear and the bone-chilling weather sets in, most of us are looking for small reprieves from the heavier comfort foods our bodies crave during this period of hibernation and nesting. We often find ourselves longing for fresher, brighter flavors and ingredients. A little burst of fresh citrus here and there definitely adds a bit of zing to dishes, waking up the palate and awakening the senses through taste, aroma, texture, even color. I love to cook and bake with citrus all year long, but during the winter months, certain types of citrus are at their peak and should not be overlooked! From blood orange and tangerine, to clementine, grapefruit and Meyer lemon, there is no shortage of flavor to warm you up, even during the coldest days. I also love to have a big bowl of citrus in the kitchen during the winter; it’s sure to brighten everything up with its awesome display of color!
I created this fresh citrus salad to showcase the gorgeous fruits that were available at the market. With the addition of fresh beets, red onion, cucumber, chopped nuts and a bit of creamy goat cheese dolloped on top, it’s a stunning display of color, texture and of course, taste.
— If you are planning to eat this salad in one sitting, adding the cucumber is encouraged. If you will be saving it in the refrigerator for another time or making it ahead of time, omit the cucumber, as it will get soggy and turn red from the beets. Or, alternatively, add the fresh-cut slices of cucumber before serving.
— The longer this dish sits and macerates in the citrus juices and honey, the better it is! Keep it in the fridge in an airtight glass container. I suggest storing it in glass because the beets can stain plastic. If making it ahead, be sure to allow it to come to room temp before serving, as the oil will solidify in the fridge.
— Use any combination of citrus that you like! This recipe is just meant to be a guide!
Winter Citrus Salad with Beets & Goat Cheese
- 3 red beets (can also use a combination of red and yellow beets)
- Tangerine segments
- Blood orange segments
- English cucumber, cut into rounds
- Goat cheese
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Toasted chopped pecans
- Juice of an Pomelo orange and juice of a lemon
- Olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne for kick at the end
- Drizzle of good quality honey
- Step 1 Remove the leafy stalks of the beets and discard and wash the outside of the beets under cold water.
- Step 2 Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the beets. Boil until fork tender. The amount of time will depend on how large the beets are. I used medium-sized beets.
- Step 3 Drain and set aside to cool.
- Step 4 In the meantime, segment the orange pieces, removing any seeds. Slice the cucumber and onion.
- Step 5 In a small dry skillet (no oil or butter) or in the oven, on a baking sheet, toast the pecans for just a few minutes.
- Step 6 To make the vinaigrette, whisk the juice of the lemon and half of an orange into a small bowl. Add the honey. Season with salt and black pepper. Whisking swiftly, pour in the extra virgin olive oil just until the dressing emulsifies. You don’t want too much oil or it will overpower the citrus. Pour just enough to complement the dressing.
- Step 7 When the beets have cooled, peel off their skins using a sharp paring knife or paper towels. Trim off the bottom and top and discard. Cut the beets into quarters or smaller if they are very large.
- Step 8 Place the beets and citrus segments in a bowl. Add the onion and cucumber slices. Pour in the dressing and toss gently to combine. Add the toasted pecans, a dash of cayenne for a little bit of heat and dollops of goat cheese.
- Step 9 Adjust the seasoning to taste and enjoy!