The Colors of Christmas

Not the garishly bright Crayola red and green, either… I’m talking deep crimson red and asparagus green and crisp white.  Mother Nature has created such gorgeous colors that no factory (even Crayola) can reproduce them.  So, in keeping with the color theme for the season, I’m offering up a salad that will wow your guests this holiday season.    Not only is it impressive in terms of appearance, it’s EASY FOR THE COOK!  Double bonus!

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably just now realizing that Christmas is a mere 12 days away (which is why my original title for this post was “Holy Shit!  It’s Christmas ALREADY?”)   You’ve heard the holiday muzak, you’ve seen the cookie platters in the office break room, and you’ve had a few Starbuck’s peppermint hot chocolates.  But it doesn’t really sink in until your kid says, “when are we putting up the Christmas tree?”
That means cleaning up all the junk that has accumulated and moving furniture to accomodate the new addition to the living room.  That means pine needles everywhere, and a vacuum bag that smells of balsam every time you turn it on over the course of the winter.  Which, I assure you, won’t be often.  That also means ridding The Boy’s bedroom and toy box of assorted games, parts and unidentifiable scraps, some of which haven’t been opened since LAST Christmas when he tore their wrapping off.
You COULD wear gloves – but the color wears off in a few hours.

For us on the farm, markets are almost over (YAY!  ‘Cause it’s freakin’ COLD!), and we can catch up on all the things we’ve neglected throughout the summer and fall. It also means getting ready for the Holiday Open House (Sunday Dec 19).  I’ll be baking cookies and cakes this week so we can celebrate the season with a sweet bite or two.  It will be nice to get together with all our wonderful customers on such a grand and festive scale one more time before we settle in for the winter.  We’ll still have our ‘mini-markets’ until mid-February, though, so if you’re stopping by, BRING COFFEE.

‘Roasting’ the beets in foil helps steam them to speed up cooking time; it also keeps them moist so they aren’t dried out and tough.
If you serve a ‘sit-down’ meal, this salad looks lovely plated for each person.  If you have a buffet or serve things ‘family style’, it would look just as beautiful on a large white platter.  I like that the beets can be prepared days in advance and refrigerated – that way I don’t have to worry about them when I’m prepping Christmas Eve dinner OR Christmas Day brunch OR Christmas dinner (which is, thankfully, a joint effort).
*Cue Jaws music*

What else?  Oh!  Wash the arugula (or mixed greens) in advance and dry them in a salad spinner, then gently lay the leaves on layers of paper towels and slide the whole stack into a zipper bag.  Store that in the fridge for a few days.  The pine nuts can be toasted ahead and stored in an airtight container on the counter.  The dressing can be whipped up a week or more in advance.   Store it in a jar in the fridge, then bring to room temperature and shake well before dressing your greens.

Roasted Beet Salad with Pignoli and Goat Cheese

Roasted Beets
Topless Beets, scrubbed, peeled and cut into wedges
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375°.  Put beet wedges on top of a large piece of foil.  Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place another piece of foil on top, then fold and crimp edges so as to completely enclose beets.  Slide foil packet onto a cookie sheet and roast in oven for about 35-45 minutes (depends upon size of beet pieces).  Beets are done when they are fork-tender.  BE CAREFUL when opening the foil packet.  STEAM BURNS!
   You can eat these hot ‘as is’ or chill them for use in the salad.

Honey-Mustard Dressing
1/4 cup Champagne or White Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1T + 1t Dijon Mustard
3-4T Honey

Put all dressing ingredients into a small jar and shake well to combine (or whisk together in a bowl!).

Ain’t it Pur-ty?

For the Salad
Roasted Beets
Arugula (or your choice of salad greens)
Honey Mustard Dressing
Goat Cheese
Pine Nuts

I’m not going to attempt to give you quantities for this salad because…. well, it’s a SALAD.  Anything goes.  Just mix enough honey-mustard dressing with your greens to dress them lightly and pile them high on a platter.  Toss roasted beets with another bit of dressing and put those atop the greens.  Crumble some goat cheese around the salad, sprinkle with a bunch of toasted pine nuts and season with salt and pepper.  Another drizzling of honey-mustard dressing and your masterpiece is ready for the table.

2 thoughts on “The Colors of Christmas

  1. Walnuts or pistachios instead of pinenuts – Yeah. I have made a version of this with your yellow beets, walnuts and grated gouda. Yum. Susan

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