Saturday, December 24, 2011

Arugula and Beet Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

In the cold season, salads provide a lovely refuge from the heavier fare that usually graces our holiday tables. This one has sweet, earthy beets balanced by peppery arugula and tart Meyer lemon vinaigrette. And those crispy onions that top our favorite casseroles? They're in here, too.

Several options for preparing the beets lets you intensify the flavors, or keep it simple.

Arugula and Beet Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
2 servings
To prepare the beets, 1) boil them in the skins until they soften and slip right out, 2) purchase per-cooked plain beets, or 3) toss sliced beets in half the vinaigrette and roast at 350 F until tender, about 30 minutes.

For the salad:
8-10 cups arugula
4 medium or 6 small beets, boiled or roasted, and sliced into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup canned French fried onions

For the vinaigrette:
Juice of one very juicy Meyer lemons, or one regular lemon plus half an orange
Generous slosh extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Place arugula in a large bowl, and top with beets and French fried onions. Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients, and drizzle a bit over, passing additional dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

Want to know if your olive oil is really the good stuff? This interview with Terry Gross and New Yorker contributor and olive oil expert Tom Mueller will answer all your extra virgin questions. After listening, I'm encouraged to be super picky about the oil I use for dipping and flavoring purposes. I think you will be too.

And, holiday menus.

What are you doing for the holidays? I'm holed up in Las Vegas with our very big family, eating Candy Cane Joe Joes in vegan paradise and eagerly anticipating a performance of Michael Jackson: The Immortal. I won't be doing any cooking this year, so here are my favorite seasonal recipes in the hope that you will.

Make-ahead Cinnamon Rolls. This has been a Christmas morning tradition for years. Spicy, gooey, creamy...I will really miss these. Make a batch in my honor?

Chocolate Chai Cookies, with fresh almond milk, if you can bring yourself to make it (otherwise, black tea).

For the raw foodist in your life, Almond Shortbread. Yum.

For Christmas dinner, Apricot Chestnut Dressing.

Or go casual with this gnocchi. Replace the sage with thyme, and top with lots of sautéed chanterelle and oyster mushrooms.

For dessert, gooey Sticky Toffee Pudding, or anything topped with caramel. Or tart Pomegranate Pear Sorbet

Or an assortment of fresh and dried fruits dipped in Ganache.

Whatever food you cook (or don't cook at all), may you be surrounded with family and dear friends in these shorter, sweeter days. Blessings of comfort and joy to you this holiday season.