Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad

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Well, winter is definitely making a grand appearance this year. I’m trying to be positive and not use profanity so I won’t elaborate on exactly how I’m feeling about the fact that the snow just won’t seem to stop… Instead, I’ll share with you a lovely winter salad.And a picture of Scooter in our front yard, swimming in the snow to retrieve his branch.

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The full description of this salad is roasted beets and fennel served on top of a bed of kale and carrots tossed in citrus dressing, topped with feta cheese and orange zest. Sounds fancy but it’s well within reason for you to consider for your next dinner party, brunch or even just lunch for yourself (which is what I had, along with leftovers to share with a friend). I’m sure you’re thinking, yeah right like I’d ever go to that much trouble to make lunch for myself. Try it sometime. If you have the time and you actually like to cook, it can be a very satisfying form of self-care. I think we can agree we could all use more of that.

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I assume you’ve eaten roasted beets before and are probably a fan if you’re considering this recipe but you may not be as familiar with roasted fennel. The texture is almost like a roasted onion and the flavor is sweet with a touch of anise flavor but not as strong as it is in raw form. It plays very nicely with the beets and the citrus and the feta adds a very necessary salty component to balance the sweetness.

Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad

(about 4 servings)

4 small beets, ends removed, scrubbed and peeled

1 medium/large fennel bulb, ends and stalks removed, fronds reserved

1 tablespoon olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

4 leaves Dino/Lacinato kale (you can substitute a different type of kale or hearty greens)

2 medium carrots, peeled, ends removed

3 tablespoons citrus dressing (recipe below)

1 tablespoon feta cheese, crumbled

1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)

Citrus Dressing

2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed

1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon grated garlic

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to425 degrees F (conventional/regular oven) or 400 degrees F (convection setting)

Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper (the paper is optional but very handy for clean-up).

Remove several fronds from the fennel stalk and set aside to use for garnish, use kitchen scissors if you have them. Then remove the stalk from the fennel bulb with a sharp knife.

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Slice the fennel bulb in half, then remove the tough core on the end. Make about 3 slices, lengthwise and one slice, crosswise for small, 1 1/2 to 2-inch chunks.

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Place the chunks of fennel on one half of the sheet pan, leaving the other half for the beets.

Remove the ends and scrub and peel the beets using a peeler or sharp knife. Cut beets into 1 1/2 to 2-inch chunks.

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Place beets on the empty half of the sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil and season with a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Using your fingers, mix to coat the vegetables with the oil and seasonings. Keep them separate to avoid purple fennel. Place in preheated oven and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until tender.

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While the vegetables roast, make the citrus dressing.

~ If you’re using orange zest, I suggest zesting it now before you cut the orange in half to extract the juice.

Squeeze juice from half an orange and a half a lemon and measure 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a mixing bowl. Add grated garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon (or to your taste) freshly ground pepper. Whisk together then slowly, while whisking, add olive oil until the dressing is well combined. Transfer dressing to a jar or other container. You won’t use all of it for the salad so you will have some left to refrigerate and use later.

Squeeze juice from an orange and a lemon and measure 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a mixing bowl. Add grated garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon (or to your taste) freshly ground pepper. Whisk together then slowly, while whisking briskly, add olive oil until the dressing is well combined. Transfer dressing to a jar or other container. You won’t use all of it for the salad so you will have some left to refrigerate and use later.

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Check the oven to see if your beets and fennel are tender and look like the picture below. Set aside to cool down a bit or all the way depending on how warm you want the salad. It can be served warm or cold.

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Remove the thick ribs at the end of the kale leaves then slice the leaves, piled on top of each other, in thin ribbons.

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Add 2 tablespoons of the citrus dressing to the bottom of a mixing/salad bowl. I used the same one I made the dressing in. Add the kale and, using your fingertips (or tongs if you’d rather), massage in the dressing to tenderize it.

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Wash, peel and cut the tips off the carrots. Then, using your vegetable peeler, just continue to peel each carrot, up and down, turning as you go, until just the thin center is left. Add the carrot ribbons to the kale. Easy peasy.

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Now for the fun part. Pick your favorite platter or salad bowl and layer the ingredients. Start with the kale and carrots, then the fennel, followed by the beets, another tablespoon of citrus dressing, then top with the feta cheese and orange zest. Place fennel fronds decoratively around the edges.

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Serve with extra dressing if you like. Can be refrigerated until ready to serve, in that case, save the feta and zest to add right before serving.

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Ha! This is silly but oh so true! Although I tend to get in trouble if I open the window… still happens, though.

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