In the midst of winter, I crave things like fluffy, unattractive socks, soups of the bisque variety, and carb-filled breakfasts. Salads usually don’t make the cut. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I ate a warm salad at a restaurant and it suddenly made sense. Why don’t we cook our greens or add warm vegetables and dressings?
The salad is made up of thinly sliced roasted beets, sautéed beet greens (no waste!) and rainbow chard, tossed with warm wild rice and a brown butter vinaigrette. It’s topped with crumblings of tart goat cheese and a few leaves of fresh mint.
This salad can act as your main course or as a side. Either way, it’s exactly what I want on a freezing winter night.
Warm Winter Salad With Brown Butter Vinaigrette
1 yellow beet, trimmed, reserving the beet greens
1 red beet, trimmed, reserving the beet greens
1/4 cup wild rice, cooked
1 large bunch (9 ounces) rainbow chard, washed and dried
1 ounce goat cheese
5-7 mint leaves
Brown Butter Vinaigrette
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon agave
1. Preheat the oven to 350?F. Transfer the trimmed beets to a small casserole dish, along with 1/4 cup of water. Cover the dish with foil and transfer to the oven to cook for 1 hour, or until the beets are tender with a fork. Set aside to cool slightly before handling. When slightly cooled, peel the beets and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
2. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the diced shallot and cook until the shallot is tender and the butter turns a light brown color, 2 to 3 minutes. Take a spoon and scrape the bottom of the pan. You want to make sure you get all of the brown butter bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar and agave. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. In a small pot, heat a teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the rice and 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pot and cook until water is evaporated and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. I’ve found that wild rice takes a bit longer to cook, so if your rice is still raw, simply add a few more tablespoons of water and cook until done.
4. Wash the chard and allow it to dry thoroughly. To trim the rainbow chard, run your knife alongside the stem, removing the leaves and discarding the stems. Tear the leaves of the rainbow chard and beet greens into bite-sized pieces.
5. In a large saute pan, heat a scant teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the beet greens and rainbow chard and top them with a liberal sprinkling of salt. Cook until the leaves are wilted and most of the water has evaporated, 5-7 minutes. (Note: If the leaves are still very wet, transfer them to the center of a few layers of cheesecloth and squeeze out the water. Return to the pan and proceed with recipe.)
6. To the greens mixture, add the rice, sliced beets and top with a few tablespoons of dressing. Cook mixture together until warm, 1-2 minutes.
7. Arrange salad on a large plate and top with crumblings of goat cheese and mint leaves.
All photos by Adrianna Adarme.