This salad is all about bright colors, flavors, and textures, with tender baby greens, the ruby red pop of pomegranates, juicy orange supremes, mildly sweet roasted crimson and golden beets, creamy goat cheese, and toasted pine nuts, all softly tossed with a smoky, tangy pomegranate-cumin vinaigrette.
Inspiration for this salad evolved from two recent dining experiences. In September, we we drove up to Costa Mesa to see Young Frankenstein, the Mel Brooks' Musical, at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and enjoyed lunch at Marche Moderne. John ordered the Santa Monica McGrath Family Farm Beet Salad, with pistachios, orange, goat cheese, and petite basil. We liked the way the chef used a smear of goat cheese along the bottom of the plate. With each bite, you can scrape up a little goat cheese with your fork rather than having globs throughout the salad.
Last month, we went to a concert at Anthology, a supper club in San Diego's Little Italy. Chef Todd Allison, who happens to be a native of Coronado, wowed us with his Baby Yellow Beets and Burrata Cheese Salad, with toasted pine nuts, watercress, and cumin vinaigrette. The cumin vinaigrette was incredible and we couldn't wait to recreate it at home.
For The Crown Jewel Affair, we added freshly squeezed pomegranate juice to the vinaigrette, combined elements from both salads, and added a sprinkling of fresh pomegranate seeds.
Roasted Beet Salad with Pomegranate-Cumin Vinaigrette
8 ounces assorted baby greens (we used a Spring mix)
4 red and/or yellow beets, stems trimmed off
4 naval oranges, cut into supremes
8 oz. goat cheese
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
Pomegranate-Cumin Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the beets in a baking pan, drizzle with the oil, and season with salt. Cover with foil. Bake for about 1 hour, or until tender when pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets, and thinly slice them into rounds or cut into 1-inch squares. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Prepare the orange supremes in advance and keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.
Just before serving, smear 1 ounce of goat cheese across each chilled salad plate. In a separate bowl, drizzle the roasted beets with some of vinaigrette to lightly coat and divide equally on top of the goat cheese. In a large bowl, toss the baby greens with additional vinaigrette until lightly coated. Place a small mound of baby greens on each plate. Arrange the orange supremes over the greens. Garnish each salad with toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.
1/4 cup fresh pomegranate juice
1/4 cup Champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Whisk together the pomegranate juice, vinegar, honey and cumin in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
A few nights after the party, we made this salad into a main course by adding filet mignon.
Again, the simple addition of pomegranate juice to the vinaigrette and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds takes the salad to a new level.