Maple Marinated Beets and a recipe for Cranberry Vinaigrette

Maple Marinated Beets
Did you all survive Christmas? Cooking up a storm, then cleaning up a storm? You should have seen the bottom of my roaster from the pomegranate molasses glaze I tried to put on the ham. It honestly looked volcanic. I let it soak, then I scrubbed. Soaked some more, scrubbed some more. I did the baking soda and vinegar thing at least 3 times to try to lift off the hardened lava. There are still a few black flecks at the bottom but I think I did pretty well short of just throwing it in the garbage.
Ok so that was the one direction I was not planning on going in. Story of my life. Get it? I make myself laugh. Sometimes I’m the only one but that’s the fun of it. Clearly I need more sleep after going to bed past midnight and waking up at the crack of dawn to take my sister Boxing Day shopping (that was yesterday, I’ve gotten some more sleep now). Thanks bud, thanks.
Anyways what were we talking about? Christmas cooking, my burned pan, One Direction, ahh yes now for some post Christmas recipes. To be truthful, I made both of these dishes for Christmas dinner. But they are healthy. I compensate for the amount of dessert I know is coming by making sides that are actually good for you. I think ahead, I know.
First we’ve got some maple marinated beets. Super simple, super quick. Other than the fact that beets take forever to cook but that time is almost entirely unattended so we’re good. In my family, we are all beet-aholics. We eat them raw, pickled, cooked, it really doesn’t matter when it comes to beets. I love to bring out their inherent sweetness by pairing them with honey or in this case, good old Canadian maple syrup. Like I said, simple, simple, simple.
Next up, cranberry vinaigrette. Why I cooked 2 full bags of cranberries to make sauce for this, I have no frickin’ idea. All I know now is that I have to find a way to use up about 15 hundred cups of cranberry sauce. Well probably only 3 cups but that’s virtually the same thing. My recipe for the vinaigrette really morphed into the entire salad recipe I made, although I never keep track of measurements so I have given you the rough estimates. It’s all about the techniques really. That being said, feel free to add whatever fruits/vegetables/garnishes your little heart desires. Actually the beets would be really good tossed in the vinaigrette too.
Did I mention my mom got us all an ice cream maker for Christmas? Oh by the way, I have also clearly developed ADHD. No but seriously, there will be ice cream coming. How soon, I don’t know. But it is in the works! And before we go back to eating more sugar, let’s indulge in some salads, shall we?
Winter Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Maple Marinated Beets
Maple Marinated Beets
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
Ingredients
5-7 medium to large beets
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
pumpkin seeds, to garnish

Instructions:

1. Start by roasting off your beets. Depending on how big they are, slice them in half or in quarters (leave the skin on). Wrap them in tin foil, put them on a sheet and stick them in the oven at 350-400F for at least an hour. They are done when you can easily insert a knife into them with little resistance. Allow them to cool slightly before peeling and cutting the beets into bite-sized chunks.
2. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the mustard and maple syrup in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar, followed by the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Toss the cooked beets in the vinaigrette, allowing them to marinate for at least an hour or two, but preferably overnight. Garnish with pumpkin seeds before serving chilled or at room temperature.

Winter Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Cranberry Vinaigrette
Makes about 3/4 cup
Ingredients
1/4 cup cooked and cooled homemade cranberry sauce
2 tbsp. grainy mustard
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey (if your cranberry sauce is really sweet, feel free to omit this)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
1. Using an immersion blender (or normal blender/food processor), puree the cranberry sauce, grainy mustard, dijon mustard and honey.
2. Once it is relatively smooth, blend in the vinegar and then the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Because the dressing is thicker, I suggest serving it with a heartier green like romaine. Arugula or spring mix would be too delicate. I garnished the salad with pomegranate seeds, goat cheese (which I flavoured with some poppy seeds and good balsamic vinegar) and cashew brittle.
The brittle isn’t as much a recipe as it is a technique. All you have to do is caramelize about 1 cup of sugar (I start it with a splash of water to help the sugar dissolve), swirling occasionally to promote even browning. Once it is golden, add roughly 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Do this off the heat as it will foam up and make sure you stir so that it gets evenly incorporated. Then throw in a couple handfuls of cashews or whatever nuts you like. Pour it onto a parchment lined pan and garnish with finishing salt (I used a Hawaiian black lava salt). Let it cool before chopping. There you have it, a gorgeous winter salad.

 

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