Saturday, April 07, 2012

Beet Salad with Fennel and Capers

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
How about a simple little yummy recipe for a different beet salad? This is great with locally grown beets of any color, and I love the addition of fennel. It's a great salad for lunch served with some smoked trout, grilled chicken or, dare I say, smoked duck breast?

2 pounds (about 5 to 6) medium beets (red, yellow, or orange), tops removed and washed well
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 lemons), plus more as needed
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling the beets
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel (from about a 12-ounce bulb)
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the beets in an 8-inch square baking dish and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the dish (about 1/3 cup). Drizzle the beets with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until a knife can be easily inserted into the center of the beets, about 40 minutes to 70 minutes (for small beets start checking after 40 minutes; large beets may need even longer than 70 minutes).

Meanwhile, make the crème fraîche dressing and the vinaigrette. Place the crème fraîche, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and half of the chives in a small, nonreactive bowl and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice as needed; set aside. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, remaining 3 tablespoons lemon juice, vinegar, shallots, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small, nonreactive bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes,
then whisk in the measured olive oil in a slow and steady stream; set aside.

When the beets are ready, carefully remove the foil and let them sit until cool enough to handle. Peel and cut the beets into bite-sized wedges about 1/3 inch wide. Immediately place them in a large bowl and add the fennel, capers, and remaining chives. Add the reserved vinaigrette and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Just before serving, top with the walnuts. Drizzle with the crème fraiche and serve.