I brought this salad to a brunch where my friends and their brand-new babies were gathering on a recent chilly Sunday morning. With donuts, cheesy egg bakes, and mimosas on the menu, it helped to make a small contribution of vegetables. It can be tough for a salad to compete with all that, but people seemed to enjoy it. As one of my friend’s husbands remarked, “it’s saying something that this is on my plate right now.” After brunch, the babies got bundled up in winter gear and went for a sleigh ride around the yard. By now, the snow is all melted, but the spring produce hasn’t quite yet sprung. So I’ll share this winter salad to tide me over.
I’m a pretty big beet fan: I used to eat sliced pickled beets out of the jar when I was little. But not everyone is as wild about beets as I am, so I’ve collected a few of the tricks to cooking beets well that really make this recipe work. The most important is to cut the beets into thin (like ¼ inch) slices before roasting them. I’ve eaten huge chunks of roasted beets, and compared to thinly sliced beets, they’re much more earthy and less sweet. Because this salad plays with the sweetness of orange juice and honey, it’s better to go the sweet route.
Any combination of red and yellow beets will work here, but I like the combination of the two for the color contrast. I found the yellow beets were always smaller than the red beets available at the market, so I’ve doubled the number relative to red beets. The red beets I used were about the size of softballs, the yellow beets looked just a bit smaller than tennis balls. Feel free to adjust the colors and quantities based on what’s available.
Beet + Pomegranate Salad
1 large red beet
2-3 small yellow beets
about 1 Tablespoon olive oil
seeds from ½ pomegranate
1 Tablespoon orange juice
½ Tablespoon honey
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the rough outside skins from the beets. Slice the beets in half and use the flat surface to help stabilize the rest of your chopping. Cut the beets into 1/4-inch thick slices, then chop into bite-size pieces. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and coat the beets lightly with olive oil (use your hands to toss the beets until evenly coated). Bake for 30 minutes, using a spatula to toss/flip the beets for even cooking.
2. While the beets are roasting, remove the seeds from the pomegranate and set aside.
3. Combine the orange juice, honey, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Whisk or stir until the honey blends in to the citrus juice. When the beets are finished, toss all ingredients together. Serve cold.