February 8, 2013
About a month and a half ago, I imposed a new breakfast smoothie rule. It was that we all had to drink breakfast smoothies. Damn it.
See, ever since the boys were wee little eaters, I’ve had a rule that breakfast must include fruit. For years, my fruit rule worked beautifully. That’s not to say that the boys didn’t sometimes whine or require a push, but every morning they eventually fell in line. Until about a month and a half ago. (6-year-olds and their sycophantic little siblings are a real bitch of a duo.)
After several weeks of watching the boys’ breakfast fruit go to waste, I decided that we needed a new plan involving my blender. The plan immediately worked and the boys have been drinking their fruit (along with plain Greek yogurt, fresh orange juice, chia seeds and green veggie powder) every morning ever since. Me, too. And it’s been a revelation.
Starting the day with fruit, chia and veggie powder gives me an immediate boost of energy and—here’s the unexpected part—has kickstarted a craving for veggies that’s getting more fierce everyday. And suddenly I’m making salads like mad.
So, the hungry boys pulled me into the smoothie action and now I want to pull them into the salad action. This Roasted Beet, Apple and Pomegranate Salad was an effort to do that. I wanted something seasonal that combined fruit and veggies without leafy greens (the hungry toddler is not down with those yet). This is what happened. Like the smoothies, this salad was a major success.
Beets, apples and pomegranates are among my favorite winter ingredients. I found gorgeous yellow-skinned Opal apples that were perfectly sweet and tangy—everything that you want in a fresh apple—and paired beautifully with sweet, earthy beets. With a salad heavy on sweet flavors, I made a dressing heavy on acidic ones: pomegranate, cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. I evened the dressing out with a touch of honey, but wanted to make sure that the dish stayed balance as a whole. Then I added a bit of dill because, well, I love dill with beets and with apples. And a little feta on top for a creamy punch of salt.
Next time I think I’ll add some creme fraiche to the dressing, too.
If you roast your beets ahead of time—it couldn’t be easier to do—this salad comes together in all of 10 minutes. And it’s filling, too! We ate it with roast chicken and thick pieces of toasted sourdough. We all went to bed with our bellies happy and full. A perfect winter meal.
Roasted Beet, Apple and Pomegranate Salad
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
6 small-medium roasted beets, trimmed and peeled
1 large apple, washed
5 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons high-quality olive oil
1 tablespoons, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
1/4 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Dried dill, to taste (about 5 shakes will do)
Crumbled feta, to top
1. Cut beets in half and then in half again. If the quarter wedges are a too big (each piece should be about two bites), cut them in half one more time. Set aside in a medium bowl.
2. Cut the apple in half and core it. Cut the halves into quarters and then into very thin slices. Place slices in your serving bowl along with pomegranate seeds.
3. Add oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper and dill to a bowl and whisk or to a mason jar and shake. Pour half of the dressing over the beets and toss to coat. Pour the other half over the apples and pomegranate; toss to coat. Gently add the beets to the serving bowl with the dressed apple and pomegranates and toss once or twice, being careful not to turn the whole salad bright red! Top with crumbled feta. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
*Note: You can easily puree the finished salad—a bit of dressed apple, beet, pomegranate and even cheese!—for early eaters 6+ mos. If you prefer, pull out individual ingredients, pre or post dressing, to make a simpler puree for baby. Chop dressed fruit and veggies into age appropriate bites for children 8+ months who are safely managing finger foods.