Partied Hearty

She’s no fool, and knows when it’s time for something light and fresh.

I do loves me some comfort food, but the last couple of weeks have left me feeling pretty sluggish.  Hannukah is heavy with oil, Christmas is sugary sweet and richly fatty, and New Years Eve is usually pretty sodden with alcohol.

It’s a gorgeous crisp sunny morning, the first of a brand-new year, and so far I’ve spent it nursing my indigestion and hangover in a lump on my sofa.  Life is too short; this should not be!  Time to turn over a new leaf!

I want something light and fresh.  Something nutritious that will make me feel virtuous.  Something exciting that will snap me out of my food coma.

Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Orange, Olives, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

4 or 5 small to medium beets
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 bulb fennel
4 clementines
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
4 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup candied walnuts (recipe follows)

Honey Tarragon Vinaigrette 

2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425.

Put the beets on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil.

Whack ’em in the hot oven for about 45 minutes or until they are tender.  (You can be sure by poking them with a sharp knife.  If the point slips in easily, they are officially roasted.)

While you wait for the beets, you can get started on the vinaigrette.  Get a big salad bowl and put in the shallot, tarragon, honey, dijon, and balsamic.

Whisk it all together and then slowly dribble in the olive oil while still whisking.  Taste and season.  Put it aside and let the flavors mingle and get to know each other.

Now back to the beets…

These are all roasted and cooled.  Slice off the tops and bottoms and then peel them with a veggie peeler.  The skins come off pretty easily but you’ll want to wear an apron…

eeooooh, stain-y!

Slice them up about 1/4″ thick and add them to the big bowl, on top of the dressing you made.

Now get your fennel- hack off the long stemmy parts and pull some of those feathery fronds off to put aside for garnish later.

Discard the stems or reserve them for another use.  Cut the fennel bulb in half and then cut out the core.

Slice the fennel as thinly as you can.  I’m using my handy-dandy mandoline-type gadget (I have this kind).

Once you have the fennel all shaved you can just chuck it into the bowl on top of the beets.  Now for the clementines… remove the peel this-a-way:

…slice them into thick rounds and add ’em to the bowl.

Top it all off with the olives…

and toss it all together so every morsel is coated with that gorgeous vinaigrette.  It gets all fuschia and jewel-y…

Put it on a plate and garnish with candied walnuts, goat’s cheese, and fennel fronds.

I’m feeling better already….

Candied Walnuts

1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
2 cups walnut halves
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Beat the egg white with the water.  Add in the nuts, sugar, and salt.  Toss to coat.  Spread in an even layer over a baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes.

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