This salad, best described as a “small plate” using the current culinary lingo, offers a refreshing bright spot this time of year when we have had our fill of roasted roots and stews and are ready to move on to something sunnier. Sure, the dish is anchored by the deep earthiness of roasted beets, but they are given a different outlook, layered with sunny rounds of citrus on a nest of watercress over a smear of creamy yogurt, then topped with a lemon-honey drizzle and punctuated with a sprinkle of seeds.
If you can find them, blood oranges (which I personally look forward to all year) are ideal here. They are just the right size (on the small side); they have a refreshing tartness; and their brilliant sunset hue nods to the crimson beets. But any small orange will work well. And if you haven’t yet tried Skyr, the Icelandic dairy product similar to Greek yogurt but even thicker, this recipe is a good excuse to pick some up. I have been enjoying experimenting with it, and it is nice in this recipe, but feel free to use Greek yogurt instead.
In modern small-plate style, this salad can be served as a starter, as part of a mezze spread, as an accompaniment to a soup or sandwich or with a hunk of bread as a light meal or snack on its own. I think of it as a versatile, culinary bridge toward spring.
Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author who hosts public television’s “Ellie’s Real Good Food.” She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com
Here, sliced roasted beets are layered with orange slices on a nest of watercress over a smear of yogurt, then topped with a lemon-honey drizzle and punctuated with a sprinkle of seeds. It’s a beautiful and versatile small plate that can be served as a starter, part of a mezze spread or as a light meal or snack.
MAKE AHEAD: The roasted, peeled beets can be refrigerated in a stain-proof, airtight container for up to 4 days.
From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.
3 medium beets (1 3/4 pounds total)
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 small oranges, preferably blood oranges
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup plain Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) or plain Greek-style yogurt, low-fat or full fat
1 cup watercress leaves and small sprigs
1 teaspoon seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Trim the stems and roots off the beets, then rub each with 1/4 teaspoon of the oil. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet and roast until easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Allow to cool and then remove the peel with a paring knife and/or by rubbing the peel away with your fingers. Cut the beets into 1/2-inch thick slices and toss with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Use a Microplane grater to zest one of the oranges; you need 1/4 teaspoon’s worth. Then cut the peel and white pith off all of the oranges and cut them into 1/2 inch rounds.
Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the lemon juice, honey, the orange zest and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl, to form an emulsified dressing.
To serve, smear 1/4 cup of the Skyr or yogurt on each salad-size plate. Place 1/4 cup of the watercress on top, then arrange the beet and orange slices on the greens. Drizzle each portion with some of the dressing, then sprinkle with seeds.
Nutrition | Per serving (using low-fat yogurt): 160 calories, 7 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 11 g sugar