Beets are the quintessential root – earthy and rich and sweet and potent – depending on how you prepare them. Simple preparations are my favorite and adding the oranges in this case with the mint and feta created a perfect harmony. These are naval oranges, rather than the blood oranges I have been featuring lately. The beet juice simply “bled” on them a bit, lending a bloody orange appearance.
As the citrus season comes to a close (and presumably the beet season as well, if you have been cellaring them since the fall!) this is an excellent way to pay tribute to both orbs. I was feeling sort of Moroccan-ish when I was cooking up the beets, hence the feta and mint. A preserved lemon vinaigrette was a possibility but I decided simplicity would rule the day.
When you buy beets, look for fresh looking ones, especially with their greens still attached. The greens will really tell you how old the beets are, since they will wilt within 3-5 days after being pulled from the ground. It is also helpful to buy beets that are fairly equal in size so that you don’t over or under boil them. Keep those greens and roll them into any saute or bake them into a quiche or a filo pie!
Beet and Orange Salad with Feta and Mint
3 large beets, tops trimmed to 1/2 inch above root
2 large oranges
2 tablespoons feta, crumbled
1-2 tablespoons mint, minced
Place beets in pot with enough water to cover by at least 1 inch and bring to boil. Turn down to medium heat and cook until tender (a fork or knife inserted in center slips out easily). Drain and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. Rub off skins and stalks and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Using a sharp paring knife, cut off peel and all white pith of oranges. Cut in 1/2 inch slices and layer with beets. Sprinkle a touch of salt (mostly on beets) and add crumbled feta over all and garnish with mint.
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