This beautiful, yet simple salad is a cut above the ordinary—stunning with its range of colors and flavors. Orange, beet and arugula are a classic combination, and the fennel seed adds a pleasant crunch and hint of licorice flavor. If you don’t enjoy the taste of fennel, substitute a sprinkling of toasted walnuts.
- 2 small beets, peeled
- olive oil
- 1/4 cup walnut oil
- 1.5 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar
- coarse sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 medium navel or 3 large mandarin oranges
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- torn arugula or lettuce leaves
- shaved red onion
- feta cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets into a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with a bit of olive oil to coat and add a couple of tablespoons of water to the dish. Cover tightly with foil and place dish in the oven. Cook beets until they are tender, about 45 minutes. Test by poking with a fork; it should glide easily into the flesh. When beets have cooled, slice into rounds about 1/4 inch thick.
- While beets roast, combine oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small, clean jar. Shake to combine.
- Peel mandarins or cut peel off the oranges, removing as much of the white pith as possible (it has a bitter taste). Cut the segments crosswise into circles.
- Place fennel seeds into a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the seeds until they are fragrant and turn golden-brown. Shake pan frequently to prevent burning. Cool slightly, then crush seeds very lightly with a mortar and pestle.
- Arrange the lettuce or arugula leaves on a large plate. Layer orange slices over the greens, then beet slices on top of oranges. Add a few onion shavings. Drizzle with walnut oil dressing to taste (refrigerate leftovers for another day). Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese, fennel seed, sea salt and ground pepper to taste.