Chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis created this colorful salad. Each bite is a delicious marriage of flavors—sweet, savory, salty, and tangy. For this bright, beautiful salad, use ready-to-eat peeled and steamed beets (which cut the cook time down to just 15 minutes), or roast your own. You can use red or golden beets in this recipe, although we like the color contrast of red beets against the orange citrus. You can find many types of beets in the markets today: red, golden, Chioggia beets with their distinctive white-and-red interior circles, and baby ones the size of walnuts. When buying beets, look for healthy leaves that are vibrant, green, and not wilted. If possible, purchase beets with the leaves and stems on, but if you buy them without, make sure the beets are firm and have no soft spots or bruises. When cutting the oranges into segments, be sure to squeeze any remaining juice from the membranes, which will give the salad dressing an extra boost of sunny flavor.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
5 ounces mixed greens (such as spinach, arugula, or mâche)
2 navel oranges
1 (8-ounce) package ready-to-eat peeled and steamed beets, quartered
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)
How to Make It
Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-low. Add chopped pecans, cumin, coriander, kosher salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, until pecans are toasted and spices are fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool. Place mixed greens in a large bowl. Section navel oranges by cutting off the top and bottom ends of each, allowing them to stand upright. Working from top to bottom of orange and following curve of fruit, cut off peel, white pith, and outer membranes from orange to expose segments. Carefully cut orange segments away from membranes. Squeeze any remaining juices from outer membranes of orange over greens. Add orange segments, steamed beets, sherry vinegar, and the spiced pecans with oil. Sprinkle with feta cheese, and toss to coat.