Baby Beet, Fennel & Orange Salad
Source: Jesse Branstetter, San Francisco Chef.
Serves 4 to 6
4 bunches baby beets
4 mandarin oranges, peeled and each cut in half
4 shallots, whole
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ounces sherry vinegar
1 ½ cups light olive oil
2 cups dried chickpeas
canola or peanut oil for frying
1 large fennel bulb
½ bunch mint
½ cup artisan farmer’s cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the beets
- Preheat oven to 400˚ F.
- Cut off beet leaves leaving 1½ inch stem, reserve the beet leaves.
- Place the beets and the four peeled oranges in a roasting pan. Add enough water to the pan to cover the bottom and then cover with foil.
- Roast at 400˚ F for 40 minutes or until the beets can be easily pierced with a knife.
- Once the beets have been cooked, remove the skin of the beet using a clean towel. Once the skin has been removed, cut the beets into disks and the oranges into smaller sections.
For the shallot vinagrette
- Roast the whole shallots at 400˚ F for about 40 minutes until completely soft. Let cool then put into a blender or food processor. (You can do this at the same time as you roast the beets.)
- While roasting shallots, prepare the orange juice reduction. Put orange juice in a pot and place on the stove on medium to high for about 15 minutes or until 2 cups of orange juice has reduced by three quarters. Allow orange juice to cool then add to the blender with the shallot puree.
- To finish the vinaigrette, blend the shallots, orange juice reduction and sherry vinegar. Then slowly drizzle in 1½ cups of the light flavored olive oil to create an emulsification.
For the chickpeas
- Place chickpeas in a pot and cover with salted water. Boil the chickpeas until tender. Drain and dry the chickpeas.
- To fry chickpeas: prepare a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Use enough canola or peanut oil for deep-frying.
- In a large pot, bring the oil up to temperature, about 375˚ F. Using a slotted spoon, carefully drop a spoonful of chickpeas at a time into the hot oil until they are dark and golden brown. Remove them from the oil and place onto the paper towel-lined baking sheet. While the chickpeas are still hot, season with salt and pepper. Continue until all chickpeas have been fried.
- Cut fennel into very thin slices using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, and tear the mint leaves by hand.
- Toss the fennel, beets and oranges with the shallot vinaigrette and plate.
- Garnish with the fried chickpeas, mint leaves and crumbled cheese.