Beet and Watercress Salad in Juniper Vinaigrette
I know my pantry is well-stocked, but it still surprises me sometimes when I find an ingredient that I’ve forgotten about and it turns out it would work with whatever I’m making. For this salad, from Los Angeles’ Street Restaurant, I needed juniper berries to make the dressing and I was surprised to see a small jar of it from the time I pickled a pig’s head. Really.
I’ve used them ever since for my pickles, but I never thought of them as part of a salad dressing. As soon as I smelled the aroma while crushing them, everything came together. How come I’ve never made a juniper vinaigrette before? I needed an apple and I found half an uneaten apple wrapped in Saran in the fridge. Walnuts? Leftovers, too. If you have raisins around, toss those in, too.
I don’t expect you to roast one beet for this salad, of course. Use your time wisely and roast a bunch of beets so that they’re ready for the week. I simply stored them in the fridge and made the salad two more times. One bunch of watercress served two people. For more dressing, just double up and refrigerate the leftover for up to a week.
1 large golden beet, washed, dried with paper towel
1 bunch of watercress, thoroughly washed, dried with paper towel
half an apple, chopped
a handful of walnuts, toasted, crushed
For the juniper vinaigrette:
1 tsp juniper berries, crushed using a mortar and pestle
oil, salt, pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Wrap the beet in aluminum foil and place on a roasting pan and roast for about 1 hour or until tender. When cool, peel and cut them into 1-inch chunks.
2. While the beets are roasting, make the vinaigrette: put all the ingredients in a glass jar with a screw top and shake to mix.
3. Assemble the salad by tossing the beets with the watercress and apple in a salad bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and dust with the walnut pieces.
I really pickled a pig’s head, see?