Monday, January 30, 2012

winter fruit, beets, and fennel salad

By Julie

Hey, it kind of looks like a I'm posting a NewYearNewYou recipe. I might be. I may or may not have gotten on the Whole 30 bandwagon. Who are you if you don't get on some sort of New Years bandwagon? One of those selectively self-righteous "Resolutions just set you up for failure" or "I don't make resolutions, I make changes" jerks who read that in some lame article in some publication whose parent company also publishes an equal amount of newyearnewyou articles. New Years resolutions are fun. And if you fail and spiral into some depression then you need to lighten up! Or actually do good on a resolution for once because you're probably worthless. That was harsh.
In any case, it only seemed fitting after my month and a half long debauch to go super clean. I stupidly got a subscription to the enviro-nut Whole Living (when I should have gotten a subscription to Bon Appétit since the subscription ran out at my work) as part of some Groupon-y 3 for $5 magazine deal, and they have this somewhat decent clean eating plan in it this month. But it calls for drinking vegetable and fruit juices for breakfasts. I don't get juices at.all. What is wrong with the whole food item? It's supposed to be too hard on your digestive system or something? It just seems preposterous. Plus, I don't like drinking my calories. Smoothies and milk and juices and milkshakes (debatable, this is more that I just vastly prefer ice cream) and protein shakes and eggnog and punch and soda. I like beer, wine, and spirits for those that are begging to point that out. But I hardly drink at all. So far, just a lousy five days in, I feel so much freaking better. It was getting to the point that after every time I would eat some cookies I'd feel like a post-nasal drip thing. I don't know what was causing it, but it was totally corrollated to cookie eating. Scary.
I really wanted to use blood oranges in this salad. Not so much so that I was willing to drive around to different groceries stores to find them, but I was disappointed that my normal grocery store didn't have them. Since this is a rather fussy salad, I thought that I may as well be fussy about making it look wonderful. Plus, they're good. But Cara Cara oranges make an appearance and those are a really nice color too. Oh, and I specifically got a chiogga beet since I'd been wanting to get one since my last beet post, but it was the least colorful chiogga beet I've ever seen. Another disappointment. I MAY AS WELL GIVE UP ON MY RESOLUTION. THEY JUST SET YOU UP FOR FAILURE.
Also related, somewhat, to my newyearnewyou is that I need to make more homemade bacon. Not the least because store bought bacon contains sugar (omg I'm sorry but it's so minimal I'm sure it's fine, but I'll play by the rules) but because I discovered a smoker lurking in the tool shed in the back yard! That sounds scary, but I don't know what else they're called. Smoking machines. I think living in rentals makes up for the fact that I can't hang anything on the walls or get rid of the metallic vinyl wallpaper in my kitchen by always surprising me with free stuff left over from previous tenants (and a flakey disappearing hippie roommate). I've gotten a cute end table, my favorite tea cup, dishes, a 70s fondue pot, a porch glider, a leather shag rug (it's cool, trust me... I might be the only one who thinks it's cool), a nice lamp, the biggest cooling rack (which came in very handy during that cookie debauch I'm trying to forget)... Stuff that really doesn't make up for the fact that I can't do shit with the rental. But a smoker? That's a pretty cool find. And I can't wait to make bacon in it. Too bad I'm defrosting a pork belly, which will take a while, and then I have to cure the stupid thing for forever. I want bacon NOWWWWWWW.
With this salad, you can use lots of different kinds of winter fruits. If you can find blood oranges, awesome! Try a mix of citrus fruits, different pears, persimmons, that sort of thing. Not scientific. Same goes with the beets - chiogga, red, golden, baby beets, etc. Nuts would also go great on this. Pistachios come to mind, predictably. Pumpkin seeds, too. If you haven't peeled a pomegranate before, it's real simple. Cut an x into the skin, then in a bowl of water start peeling away the skin. It has a nice snap to it and should come apart easily. Gently snap away the arils (seeds) from the pith. They'll sink to the bottom, the pith will rise, and you won't be covered in red juice. There is so much pith and red juice in this recipe.
winter fruit, beets, and fennel salad

2 medium red beets, trimmed
1 medium chiogga beet, trimmed
2 Cara Cara oranges
1 pomegranate's arils
1 pear, such as Comice, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick wedges
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced on a mandoline (about 1/3 cup)
Extra-virgin olive
Coarse, flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and scrub beets and wrap individually in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let cool enough so you can rub the skin off without dying.

2. Meanwhile, peel the oranges and remove all the white pith. With one orange, slice down the outside to remove the membranes, then slice the orange crosswise into 1/4 inch rounds. Place the rounds in a medium bowl. With the other orange, separate it into segments and peel off the membranes. Put membrane-less segments into the bowl and squeeze the membranes into the bowl to save any juice. Discard membranes.

3. Put the pomegranate arils and the sliced pear into the bowl and add the lemon and lime juice. Gently toss.

4. Once the beets are cool enough to touch, rub the skins off with your fingers. Slice the chiogga beet and one red beet crosswise into thin rounds. With the other beet, cut into 1/2 inch wedges.

5. Arrange some beets and fruit mixture onto a plate, making sure to get some juices from the bottom of the bowl. Top with some sliced fennel and onion. Drizzle with olive oil and a generous helping of salt and pepper. Top with cilantro leaves.

I ate so much of this it made my pee turn red from the beets. I'm so sorry I wrote that.

This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!

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