Pickled-Cherry and Cranberry Salad
For the Salad:
2 large beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dried cherries and/or cranberries
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
6 cups mixed spring greens or artisan lettuces
6oz. bleu cheese or goat cheese
Thin slices of raw, shaved beets for added decoration (optional)
For the Cherry Port Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup Door County cherry juice (in the fall you can use apple cider)
2 tablespoons port or red wine
1 tablespoon honey
3–4 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
One garlic clove, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and white pepper to taste
Prepare beets by preheating the oven to 350º F. Place beets on a large piece of foil and drizzle with the olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and roast until tender, about 1.5 hours. A paring knife should easily go through the beets when they are done.
When the beets are cool enough to work with, place them under cold water the remove the skins. You may need to use a paring knife to assist you with this. Cut into thin slices. (If the beets are large enough, you can use a mandolin to do this.)
To prepare the cherries and/or cranberries, combine in a saucepan with the sugar,3/4 cup water,1/4 cup red wine vinegar, and fennel. Bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain and use immediately or place them, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To serve, toss the greens with the cherries/cranberries and some of the dressing. Divide the sliced beets among 6 plates. Top the beets with some of the salad mixture. Finally, garnish with some crumbled cheese. Decorate with thin slices of shaved beets if available.
Cherry Port Vinaigrette Preparation:
This will make more vinaigrette then needed. You can split the recipe in half, or refrigerate the extra for later use.
Place the cherry juice, port, and honey in a small sauce pot. On low heat, simmer until reduced to a syrup. Be careful because this mixture can reduce fairly quickly. Let cool.
Place the reduction in a bowl and add the white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and white pepper as needed. If the dressing seems to tart, add a bit more oil. If not tart enough, add a little more white wine vinegar.