Baby Beet, Fennel & Orange Salad | CUESA

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Baby Beet, Fennel & Orange Salad


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

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

  2. Cut off beet leaves leaving 1½ inch stem, reserve the beet leaves.
  3. 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.
  4. Roast at 400˚ F for 40 minutes or until the beets can be easily pierced with a knife.
  5. 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

  1. 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.)

  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. Place chickpeas in a pot and cover with salted water. Boil the chickpeas until tender. Drain and dry the chickpeas.

  2. To fry chickpeas: prepare a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Use enough canola or peanut oil for deep-frying.
  3. 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.


  1. Cut fennel into very thin slices using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, and tear the mint leaves by hand.

  2. Toss the fennel, beets and oranges with the shallot vinaigrette and plate.
  3. Garnish with the fried chickpeas, mint leaves and crumbled cheese.



CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »