I love cold vegetable salads with a zesty vinaigrette. They’re quick to make and can even be eaten immediately if you don’t mind them not being totally chilled. As most of the vegetables and olives are already in the fridge, the salad is mostly chilled and ready to be a side dish for dinner! I make them often, more often in the summer to accompany grilled meats.
I wanted beets, I’d been craving them and bought a couple of cans of diced beets. I’d never done that, usually I like to grill them whole before using them in a dish. But in early spring they’re hard to find at a reasonable price so canned was going to do for this salad. The rest of the ingredients were things I had in my fridge ready to use.
Vinaigrettes are also super quick. I love the ones that use fruit or fruit juice for a snap of flavor. This one contained orange juice and as it was citrus season, I had plenty of fresh oranges to use. I should have cut some slices up and put them into the salad as well but I was working on a deadline. My P.S. (Partner in Salads/hubby) was eager to eat.
The only thing that took more than a minute or two in this recipe was blanching the asparagus. And even that was only a few more minutes if you start the water to boil before chopping the vegetables.
I emptied the can of diced beets into a colander and rinsed them well. I was hoping to minimize the bleeding into the rest of the salad. I could hope.
Cucumbers are always my favorite addition to these salads. I had a very long English cucumber in the fridge so I diced half of one and added it to the salad along with two medium tomatoes.
I roughly chopped a handful of Kalamata olives then made my vinaigrette. I used the proportions called for in this recipe but did add more extra virgin olive oil until the vinaigrette had emulsified. You can tell because there won’t be separation, it will all come together in a smooth, slightly thickened dressing. My picture was taken before adding extra olive oil.
I poured the vinaigrette over the vegetables, stirred then refrigerated the salad for about 20 minutes. Of course my vinaigrette ended up red from the beets. The orange flavor came through in spite of not being orange.
I chose to serve the vegetable salad on lettuce I’d sliced thinly. I drizzled some of the vinaigrette around on the lettuce and our side dish was served.
It was an excellent way to have a variety of vegetables for dinner. I liked the beets this way, without having the mess of cleaning them myself. And honestly I think I prefer asparagus blanched and still slightly crunchy rather than roasted or sautéed. It has a fresher flavor. The vinaigrette had a nice zing to it with the orange juice and vinegar. I want to make it and serve it over a simple lettuce salad next time. I’m pretty sure it will be excellent that way as well.
Asparagus and Beet Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
1 can diced beets; drained and rinsed well
1/2 lb fresh asparagus; cut into 1″ pieces and blanced
1 cup cucumber; diced (I peeled it because the skin was tough)
1 large tomato; diced
2 tablespoons diced kalamata olives
1/4 cup green onions; thinly sliced
3-4 cups thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
Orange slices for garnish (optional)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place vegetables in a bowl, mix well and refrigerate, covered. ***See alternative below.
Whisk together orange juice, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey and salt. Drizzle in oil as you whisk until dressing is emulsified and smooth. Refrigerate until used.
To serve: arrange lettuce on individual salad plates or bowls. Top with serving of vegetable mixture. Drizzle vinaigrette over vegetables and lettuce before serving.
***Alternative: pour vinaigrette over vegetables, stir and refrigerate for an hour or two to blend. The vinaigrette will turn a colorful red.