For those who embrace the visual value of food, blood oranges are like godsends. They are just so damn pretty — and they happen to be in season now. A blood orange’s deep red color can take anything from pleasant to stunning, whether it’s a salad, cake, or cocktail. My favorite blood orange recipes are the ones that really showcase the citrus fruit’s beauty in their natural state, and that’s why I love this blood orange salad with beets, fennel, and radish. Those four ingredients taste — and look — so good together, like the ridiculously beautiful popular clique of salad fixings.
For this recipe, I took the best elements from Bon Appétit's and The New York Times’ (two of my favorite sources for outstanding recipes) blood orange salads and combined them to make it my own. With soft roasted beets, spicy, crunchy radishes and fennel, and juicy, sweet blood oranges, the final dish is a medley of textures, flavors, and colors. The pistachio crumbs and mint add further contrast in color and complexity in flavor while the vinaigrette’s nutty oil base complements the tangy citrus notes. (For ease, I used store-bought roasted pistachios.)
If you’re planning on serving a hearty meat dish for your main course, like rack of lamb or filet mignon, this light, ruby-hued salad is the perfect starter. Recipe below.
3 blood oranges (about 1/2 pound)
2 medium red beets, tops trimmed
1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced crosswise using a mandoline
6 ounces radishes (about 1 cup), thinly sliced using a mandoline
1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted pistachios
6-8 small mint leaves
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt to taste
For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon pistachio oil, walnut oil, or some other nutty oil
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash the beets but do not dry. Wrap each beet in foil and place in a baking tray. Roast until beets are fork-tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Cut the blood oranges into thin slices crosswise and, using a sharp paring knife, cut around the flesh to remove the peel and pith.
- Chop the pistachios until they’re a rough crumb texture.
- When beets have cooled, slice one into thin rounds and the other into wedges for more playful plating.
- For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients and mix well until the oil is incorporated.
- Assemble the blood oranges, beets, fennel, and radishes in a salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with sea salt, pistachio crumbs, and mint leaves.