This is a gorgeous salad and a must try. Even my Dad who is a little conservative in his tastes (as he ages, else it was he who was the ultimate foodie when I was growing up!!) loved it and had second and third helpings. I initially made this for this dinner with friends and served it with a Lamb Chilli and Spaghetti Aglio - E Olio, but it is so simple that this can be a quick addition for an everyday meal with just pasta or even grilled chicken or fish.
The original idea comes from Feast on Cheap which has the beets roasted in her version while I pressure cooked them. Indian beets must be different because they just didn't cook in the oven after all that time. Pressure cooking was way simpler. Also, the orange balsamic reduction is from another recipe of hers but I liked it so much I incorporated it into this one. I omitted the onions/shallots in the original recipe because Indian onions are quite pungent. Be sure to mix the pears and the beets only when ready to serve because otherwise the pears will turn blood red - my pic was taken after 15 minutes and its already red.
The sweet flavours of the beet and the pear are interpersed with a sharp tartness from the balsamic vinaigrette and heightened by the salty feta - my favourite!. Such a beautiful combination of flavours!!
Beetroot, Pear and Feta Salad with Orange Balsamic Reduction
Beetroot - 3 medium
Pear - 1 ripe - firm variety
Feta Cheese crumbled - 1/2 cup (about 100 gm)
Walnuts - 1/2 cup (toasted and lightly rubbed to remove the peel)
Coriander leaves - 2-3 tbsp
Orange juice - 4 tbsp
Balsamic vinegar - 1/2 cup
Olive oil - 2tbsp
Lemon juice - 2 tsp
Grated giner - 1/2 tsp
Grated garlic - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Freshly crushed black pepper - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
1. Put the beets into a vessel or directly in a pressure cooker, with a little water and cook for one whistle (8-10 minutes)
2. Meanwhile, heat the balsamic vinegar and orange juice together on a medium flame till it reduces to half (about 4-5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
3. Whisk in all the other ingredients of the dressing along with the orange juice reduction and keep aside to allow the flavours to meld.
4. Once the pressure cooker can be opened and the beets have cooled, peel them, cut the ends and then cut into 1" cubes or thinner (I did thinner slices). Place in the salad bowl you will be serving them in.
5.Cut the pears into very thin slices. Crumble the feta cheese.
6. Add the toasted walnuts, feta cheese, and pears to the beets and toss with the dressing till well mixed. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve immediately.
7. To make ahead and serve later, toss the beets in 1/2 the dressing and refrigerate covered. In another bowl. In another bowl, add the feta, pears and walnuts and rerigerate covered. Just before serving, add the pears, walnuts and feta to the beet bow, toss with the remaining dressing and garnish with chopped coriander.