Salads are clearly a January staple but that certainly doesn’t mean they need to be boring, they don’t even have to include lettuce as far as I’m concerned. In fact, a winter salad should be just as hearty as any other dish you crave this time of year.
This particular (non lettucey combination) is a take off of Pati Jinich’s Ensalada de Navidad or Christmas Salad. Pati uses jicama, thick slices of orange, and beets and I love that combination but I’m also particularly fond of persimmons and just don’t think they get the love they deserve, not to mention, beets and persimmons are an irresistible match.
The orange component appears in a smoky-sweet dressing made from fresh squeezed orange juice, smoked paprika, scallions, and garlic. This dressing should not be reserved simply for this salad but is amazing over warm grains, pan-seared steak, and of course lettuce, if that’s your jam.
Now the pièce de résistance that totally makes this salad are the spicy, maple-coated peanuts that sound lavish but are really nothing more than a go around in the oven. I have a soft spot for Runamok Smoked Maple Syrup which is absolutely divine on these peanuts and goes beautifully with the smoky flavors of the dressing. That being said, I’ve also made them with regular ‘ol Grade A maple syrup and they are still delicious!
For the salad:
- 2 pounds beets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound Fuyu persimmons
- 1 cup baby arugula
For the candied peanuts:
- ⅔ cup raw peanuts
- ⅓ cup smoked maple syrup or pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon ground arbol chile powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the dressing:
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 3 scallions, trimmed and chopped
- 2 oranges
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the salad:
- Heat oven to 375°F. Scrub beets and dry them. Place in a baking dish, rub with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast until a knife easily goes through, about 30 minutes. Remove, let cool, then peel and slice into ½-inch thick slices.
- Meanwhile make the peanuts. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and toss peanuts, syrup, chile powder, and salt together on the baking sheet until well combined. Bake peanuts in the oven with the beets 15-20 minutes, stirring a few times. Let cool then break into pieces.
- To make the dressing combine garlic, scallions, the zest of 1 orange and the juice of both oranges, with remaining dressing ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt or vinegar if needed.
- To serve, slice the persimmons into ½-inch thick slices then arrange the beet and persimmon slices on a platter. Spoon dressing over the top, sprinkle with nuts and arugula and serve.
Photos by David Mendoza III
A Vegetarian Winter Menu
Beet and Persimmon Salad with Candied Peanuts and Smoked Paprika-Orange Dressing
One More Thing
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