November 23, 2011

Cranberry, Beet & Pear Salad

I'm in a festive mood! I'm so ready for the upcoming holidays & everything they include. I love all of the family & friend time, yummy foods, decorating, gift wrapping/giving, & general excitement!

As we go into the holidays, I'm trying to keep our dinners healthy, light, & full of nutrients. With the weather getting cooler, it's so tempting to cozy up by the fireplace in the evenings & become a lot less active. The chilly weather also makes people much more susceptible to diseases, so I want to make sure we're fueling our bodies with lots of healthy foods.

Our oven has been on almost every night. Something about this dreary weather makes me crave warm foods. I may or may not also want to use the oven because it warms up the kitchen. I always leave the door open after I turn it off to let all the heat into the room. :-)

You're looking at our entire beet crop. I planted 2 rows! :-( They just didn't get big. It took me forever to clean these because they were all about the size of a vitamin. There were only about 4 or 5 that made it to ping pong ball size. Still, they tasted the same! I'm thankful to have gotten any at all.

I love the way beets color everything around them. Cranberries do the same thing, so this made a really pretty medley. The onion wedges turned a pinkish purple after they were done baking. 

Maybe this looks more like Christmas than Thanksgiving...

The cranberries add a lightly tart flavor to the salad. Combined with the crunch of the hazelnuts & the sweetness of the beets & pears, this salad was warming & fresh at the same time.

Cranberry, Beet & Pear Salad
Yield: 2 main dish salads or 4 side salads

4 large beets
1 medium white onion
1/2 c fresh cranberries
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4-5 c lettuce mixture (romaine, red leaf, spinach, radicchio, etc.)
2 pears
1/3 c roasted hazelnuts
1/3 c Cranberry Dressing (see below)

Preheat oven to 400*F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Cut beets and onion into uniform wedges. In a medium bowl, combine beet wedges, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Arrange on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once. Add onion wedges and cranberries, mixing with beets. Bake another 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.

In the meantime, divide lettuce between two (or four) bowls. Thinly slice pears and arrange on top. Once beet mixture is done roasting, divide between salads as desired. There may be some extra - this will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and can be reheated. Top salads with hazelnuts and Cranberry Dressing.

Note: If you don't feel like making the Cranberry Dressing, you can still make this salad! There are cranberry dressings available in some stores, or you could substitute either Raspberry Vinaigrette or Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Cranberry Dressing
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 c fresh cranberries
1/2 of a pear, roughly chopped
1/2 of an apple, roughly chopped
1/4 red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped & seeded
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
2 T lime juice
3 T orange juice
2 T honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 T dried cilantro (or 1/4 c fresh cilantro)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine everything in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Taste & add more honey or salt if desired. Store remaining dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


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